54 Kent County Councillors fail to disclose their election expenses.

54 out of 81  Kent County Councillors are currently committing a criminal offence. This is equivalent to two-thirds of the KCC chamber (66.66%). This has been the case since they were elected in May 2017, – 33 months ago – according to documents published on Kent County Council’s website.

These include the leader of Kent County Council, Roger Gough (Con) and five other male members of his Cabinet; the Leader of the opposition Labour Group – Dara Farrell (Lab); and the opposition leader of the Lib Dems, Rob Bird.

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These 54 Cllrs are responsible for services across the whole of the county, like:

  • education

  • transport

  • planning

  • fire and public safety

  • social care

  • libraries

  • waste management

  • trading standards

  • Council Tax precept

After elections, those who are elected as councillors to Kent County Council (KCC) are required by law, because of section 30 of the Localism Act 2011, within 28 days of their election to notify KCC 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 KCC Cllr code of conduct

  • “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.”

This is KCC Leader Roger Gough’s entry under sponsorship.

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 09-51-00

Cllr Dr. Laura Sullivan (Lab) sponsorship form is a good example of how it should be done.

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 09-58-09

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.

54 KCC 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). So in the May 2017 elections, they are all saying nobody paid towards their election expenses, not even their party. Nobody paid for any leaflets etc, not even themselves – if they stood as independents.

Below is a list of the Cllrs currently committing the criminal offence.

  1. Declaration file for Alan Ridgers

  2. Declaration file for Andrew Bowles

  3. Declaration file for Andrew Cook

  4. Declaration file for Andy Booth

  5. Declaration file for Barry Lewis

  6. Declaration file for Bryan Sweetland

  7. Declaration file for Charlie Simkins

  8. Declaration file for Dan Daley

  9. Declaration file for Dara Farrell

  10. Declaration file for Dave Butler

  11. Declaration file for David Brazier

  12. Declaration file for David Monk

  13. Declaration file for Derek Murphy

  14. Declaration file for Dick Pascoe

  15. Declaration file for Emma Dawson

  16. Declaration file for Eric Hotson

  17. Declaration file for Gary Cooke

  18. Declaration file for Geoff Lymer

  19. Declaration file for George Koowaree

  20. Declaration file for Ian Chittenden

  21. Declaration file for Ian Thomas

  22. Declaration file for Ida Linfield

  23. Declaration file for James McInroy

  24. Declaration file for Jan Ozog

  25. Declaration file for Jason Clinch

  26. Declaration file for Karen Constantine

  27. Declaration file for Liz Hurst

  28. Declaration file for Margaret Crabtree

  29. Declaration file for Mark Dance

  30. Declaration file for Michael Payne

  31. Declaration file for Mike Angell

  32. Declaration file for Mike Hill OBE

  33. Declaration file for Mike Whiting

  34. Declaration file for Nick Chard

  35. Declaration file for Nigel Collor

  36. Declaration file for Paul Barrington-King

  37. Declaration file for Paul Bartlett

  38. Declaration file for Paulina Stockell

  39. Declaration file for Paul Messenger

  40. Declaration file for Penny Cole

  41. Declaration file for Peter Harman

  42. Declaration file for Peter Homewood

  43. Declaration file for Peter Lake

  44. Declaration file for Peter Oakford

  45. Declaration file for Richard Long TD

  46. Declaration file for Rob Bird

  47. Declaration file for Roger Gough

  48. Declaration file for Rosalind Binks

  49. Declaration file for Sarah Hamilton

  50. Declaration file for Sarah Hohler

  51. Declaration file for Sen Holden

  52. Declaration file for Steve Manion

  53. Declaration file for Tony Hills

  54. Declaration file for Trevor Bond

It is known that their political parties contributed towards each of the candidate’s election expenses, as for the Independents, they had to declare his own election expenses. So how is it these 54 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 54 Cllrs cannot read.

What this demonstrates is that the KCC Monitoring Officer, Benjamin Watts,  is NOT monitoring these matters. In return for not monitoring what he is responsible for he is paid  £115,356.

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 him 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, but truly, realistically, this is very unlikely to happen.

This is not just peculiar to KCC. 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”

In Sept 2019 we flagged the fact Folkestone & Hythe District Councillors had not supplied the correct information in their sponsorship part of their declaration. After running that post, Cllrs rushed to the monitoring officer to amend their papers.

We do NOT want Criminals in our Council Chamber. We suspect some residents of our wonderful county might feel the same. As such it would be rude not to make a formal complaint. You can do so by clicking this blue link.

Finally, another thing the monitoring officer Benjamin Watts is not monitoring is the publication of KCC CllrsAllowances. Presently only KCC elected  Members for the surnames A to H are available to the public.  We hope this will be corrected soon.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1136 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

1 Comment on 54 Kent County Councillors fail to disclose their election expenses.

  1. doggerbank56 // February 3, 2020 at 16:36 // Reply

    Please could I suggest that you write a follow-up article in 3 months time to show how many of our Councillors have/have not been able to comply with these requirements.

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