Thursday 17 February 2011

Conflict of Interest?

Back to the story of Mr Humphreys and the Mill at Felin Wen. Mr Humphreys has now made an official complaint over the role of one of the planning officers who dealt with the case.
The officer, who deals with conservation, gave evidence at the original trial at Llanelli magistrates court, where Mr Humphreys was aquitted of breaching Listed Building Regulations. At no time during that trial, or indeed with the handling of Mr Humphreys' planning applications did the officer happen to mention that he was an executive member of the Welsh Mills Society. It wasn't until  the case was sent back to the magistrates over one issue, after the council appealed to the High Court, did he decide to reveal his membership. 
The Council's Code of Conduct states that if an officer has a non-pecuniary interest in a planning application he should take no part in it's determination - so what happened here? The overriding ethos of the Welsh Mill Society must be the preservation and restoration of old mills, surely this will cloud Mr Griffiths' objectivity in this, and any other similar matter? 
The Council, of course, deny there was a conflict of interest but one wonders, if that was the case, why he didn't declare his position in the very first instance?
The South Wales Guardian has the story; Builder at centre of row questions role of official
The council has now issued Mr Humphreys with an Enforcement Notice, going against the opinion and guidance given by the Planning Inspector; Mr Humphreys has lodged an Appeal. It will be interesting to see whether the Planning Inspector who determines this appeal will agree with his colleague or with the council!

No comments: