An independent investigator has concluded that two Manea parish councillors worked to stop a planning enforcement issue from being reported.
Cllrs Steve Emery and Pop Jolley were reported to Fenland District Council by Cllr Mark Archer, who accused them of breaking the code of conduct over a planning issue.
The issue relates to an unauthorised log cabin built by Manea resident Tom Savage that another Manea councillor, Alan Fielding, was going to report.
It was alleged by Cllr Archer that Cllrs Emery and Jolley had “warned him [Cllr Fielding] about the consequences of his proposed actions” and as a result, the planning breach was not reported.
Investigator Stephen Pearson concluded that both Cllr Emery and Cllr Jolley failed to treat Cllr Fielding with respect when he wanted to raise the issue and he was “put off” bringing it to the council’s attention. However, there was no evidence of bullying or intimidation. The allegation of disclosing information given in confidence was also not proven.
Mr Pearson found Cllr Emery, as chairman of the parish council, to have brought his office and the council into disrepute and found him guilty of misusing his position. Cllr Jolley was cleared of both these allegations as he is not in a position of authority within the council.
Mr Pearson wrote in his report: “It does seem clear that Cllr Emery, as chairman, sought to use his position as a long established member to attempt to prevent this major planning issue from seeing the ‘light of day’. This is particularly concerning as the individual involved had a history of committing breaches of planning control and had a historical business relationship with both Cllrs Emery and Jolley.”
Mr Pearson’s findings are due to be presented to the Fenland conduct committee today (Wednesday) where they will be discussed.