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OTTERY: EDDC steps in to resolve confidentiality dispute

Friday, 17 January 2014

The East Devon District Council monitoring officer has met with Ottery St Mary town councillors to help resolve a dispute over an alleged breach of council confidentiality rules.
Councillors met with the monitoring officer on Wednesday of last week (January 8th) to come to an understanding on the appropriate course of action, after weeks of disagreement over the interpretation of procedural rules and codes of conduct.
At the full town council meeting on Monday, December 2nd, Councillor Roger Giles was judged to have broken confidentiality rules by divulging information about a private meeting to be held between councillors and housing developer Persimmon Homes, to Ottery’s District and County Councillor Claire Wright.
Persimmon Homes have since confirmed their intention to submit a planning application to build homes in an area of land adjacent to Higher Broad Oak Road in West Hill.
Councillor Giles claimed that he had been “put on trial” by other members of the council and had been subject to “bullying”. He has since insisted that he has never broken confidentiality rules.
An EDDC spokesperson said: “The meeting made a helpful contribution to the monitoring officer’s assessment. She will continue to assess the complaints that have been received and will decide what – if any – action needs to be taken.”
Tensions between councillors resurfaced at the full town council meeting on Monday (January 6th) where Councillor Giles again fended off criticism. In response to a comment from Councillor Paul Carter that he had already admitted to having passed on confidential information, Councillor Giles said: “I strongly deny that accusation – I have never divulged anything of a confidential nature. To be accused of something like that pains me greatly.”
Mayor of Ottery, Councillor Glyn Dobson, acknowledged that a number of letters of complaint had been sent to the town council, but said he did not know how many had been received.
The monitoring officer was also due to discuss with councillors the possibility of drawing up a policy on pre-application meetings with prospective planning applicants, to avoid similar situations occurring in the future.
Further details from the meeting have yet to be released.

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