Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Vice Chairman admits to changing the rules to exclude elected councillor

The Duty to Cooperate scandal has intensified, following a meeting of senior members of the Broads Authority and Broadland District Council.

BA Vice Chairman and unelected member Sir Peter Dixon boasted to Broadland leaders that both he and fellow Secretary of State appointee Prof Jacquie Burgess had openly canvassed members to oppose any attempt to reinstate Cllr Lana Hempsall on to the planning committee, going on to say that she was “not liked” at the Authority.

Warming to his theme, he accused her of being “disengaged”, which is a bit rich when you consider that he conspired to remove her from the planning committee without notice or reason, and that both he and Prof Burgess have steadfastly refused to reinstate her.

Standing order 32(2) states that “a member … must not in any way try to influence improperly the choice of candidate for any appointment”, putting Sir Peter and Prof Burgess in clear breach of standing orders - as well as as numerous elements of the code of conduct. Members must never use their position improperly to confer a disadvantage on others, for example, and must treat others with respect.

Proudly confirming that he had altered the Duty to Cooperate statement in direct response to Vic Thomson’s attempt to make the BA comply with its own rules, Sir Peter asked “why shouldn't that happen in such a circumstance?” He seems to think it quite normal that he can change the rules to suit his own personal agenda, and appears unaware that he is placing the Authority’s Local Plan at risk by putting his antipathy towards an elected member ahead of the BA’s Duty to Cooperate with local authorities.

Sir Peter concluded by saying that if Cllr Hempsall “behaved herself” for 6 months then he “might” re-consider the whole situation again. Unless and until that happens, Broadland will remain without any representation on the BA’s planning committee.

The comments from the Authority’s Vice Chairman reveal the staggering degree to which senior members are able to silence dissent and marginalise any member who does not subscribe to the “correct” opinions of the liberal elite. The fact that members appointed by the Secretary of State - who are elected by, and accountable to, nobody - are able to disenfranchise elected members and their stakeholders sends a clear - and unpalatable - message about accountability and freedom of speech at this publicly funded authority.

Readers should note that this article represents my personal opinions and should not be construed as being the view of the Navigation Committee. They are made in my private capacity as an individual, and not as a co-opted member of the Navigation Committee.


  1. You could try 1. tabling a motion which would be referred to the relevant committee or Full Authority where you would have the right to speak... and/or
    2. A formal complaint David Broad

  2. This illustrates precisely what is wrong with the BA. The only way to change it is to have 50% of democratically elected members. As a public body it stinks.

  3. BA members have no executive powers (unlike local authority cabinet members) so Peter Dixon has no powers to change the wording of any document. The members can only agree things collectively in committee.

  4. I've altered the settings on the blog so that only registered users can comment. Anyone can register. This is because I publish my blog in my own name and I expect anyone who wants to debate with me to use their name as well. I can't tell one 'anonymous' apart from another one!