Nineteen out of thirty Folkestone & Hythe District Council Councillors are currently committing a criminal offence. Three are in a grey area, and the other seven are fully compliant with the law.
After elections those who are elected as a councillor to Folkestone & Hythe District Council (F&HDC) are required by law, because of section 30 of the Localism Act 2011, within 28 days of their election to notify F&HDC of any disclosable pecuniary interests.
These include a category called “Sponsorship” which is defined in the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 (with the same description used in F&HDC’s Code of Conduct for Councillors (page 12)) as:
“Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the relevant authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by M in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the election expenses of M.
This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.”
A councillor not declaring a disclosable pecuniary interest is deemed to be committing a criminal offence if the councillor knows the information is false and misleading or is reckless as to whether the information is true or misleading. Taking part in a meeting or voting, when prevented from doing so by a conflict caused by disclosable pecuniary interests, is also a criminal offence – so two separate offences . This applies only to pecuniary interests, not to any breaches of the other elements of a code of conduct. Either offence is punishable by a (level 5 fine – currently an unlimited amount), and an order disqualifying the person from being a member of a relevant authority for up to five years. A prosecution must be brought within 12 months of the prosecuting authorities having the evidence to warrant prosecution, but any prosecution must be brought within 3 years of the commission of the offence and only by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Below is an example of how it must be done: The image is of Cllr Susan Carey’s (Con) sponsorship disclosure of who paid towards her election expenses.
Below is a list of the Cllrs currently committing the criminal offence as the said Cllrs have declared “None” or “N/A” in the Sponsorship category in their Register of Interests (just a reminder that the Sponsorship category includes “any payment or provision of any other financial benefit … towards election expenses):
Cllr Danny Brook (Con), Cllr John Collier (Con), Cllr Michelle Dorrell (Lab), Cllr Ray Field (Lab) (pictured), Cllr Peter Gane (Con), Cllr Clive Goddard (Con), Cllr David Godfrey (Con), Cllr Tony Hill (Con), Cllr Nicola Keen (Lab), Cllr J.Martin (Green), Cllr P. Martin (Con), Cllr Connor McConville (Lab), Cllr Jackie Meade (Lab), Cllr David Monk (Con), Cllr Terence Mullard (UKIP), Cllr Rebecca Shoob (Green), Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green), Cllr David Wimble (Ind), Cllr John Wing (Green).
It is known that their political parties contributed towards their election expenses, as for the Independent, he had to declare his own election expenses. So how is it these 19 Cllrs haven’t disclosed? There is “no reasonable excuse“ for the above mentioned Cllrs not to know that some or all of their election expenses were paid for them by their respective political parties (or as individuals), unless of course, all 19 Cllrs cannot read.
What this demonstrates is that the F&HDC Monitoring Officer, Amandeep Khroud (pictured) is NOT monitoring these matters. This not the first time she has failed to monitor Cllrs declarations. The first was data protection issues, the second was the Councillors expenses investigation and now this. These evidenced failings demonstrate she is not doing any monitoring of the disclosable pecuniary interests of Cllrs. How many more times must she fail to monitor before she is shown the door?
As it is one of three responsibilities for the monitoring officer to start the process in bringing criminal cases against the above Cllrs and disqualify them from office, we ask her to begin with gusto. This might necessitate fresh by-elections, which might mean new Cllrs, ones who would not commit a criminal offence from day one in office.
This is not just peculiar to our Council. KCC Cllr Dick Pascoe (Con), Hythe Town Council Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green), Sellindge Parish Council, Cllr Stanley Bull (Ind), have too failed to mention their “election expenses.” There are literally thousands of Cllrs not declaring their disclosable pecuniary interests across the UK, especially the Sponsorship category which includes:
“any payment or provision of any other financial benefit … towards election expenses”
The Shepwayvox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent