The deputy leader of Lichfield District Council has been told to undertake training on the code of conduct for councillors after admitting failing to declare that he held a directorship of a company for seven years.
Cllr Ian Pritchard, who is also the Cabinet member with responsibility for development services, has apologised after it was discovered that he had held the position at Chard Development Ltd between 2010 and 2017, when the business was dissolved.
The information came to light after a complaint from a local resident over the directorship not being declared on the council’s register of interests.
In a written response to the complaint seen by Lichfield Live, Cllr Pritchard admitted he had not flagged up the role – but said he was not aware it had to be recorded.
“I don’t challenge this complaint,” he said.
“In mitigation, after forming the limited company my circumstances changed and the need to use the limited company no longer existed.
“Chard Developments Ltd did not trade at all and was eventually closed.
“As it was not trading and never intended to trade in the area covered by Lichfield District Council, I, misguidedly, thought there was no need to include it in my declarations of interest.
“I can only apologise and say there was never any intention to mislead anyone.”
“No further action is necessary”
A sub-group of the council’s audit and member standards committee met to discuss the issue last month.
The panel, made up of three Conservative councillors, a Labour councillor and an independent member, stopped short of launching a formal investigation, insisting training was a better option.
In a written response, the panel said: “We do not support the statement of Cllr Pritchard’s that his company would not trade in the Lichfield area, as the nature of the business is that it should be taken where it arises.
“However, we fail to see what benefit there would be in a formal investigation given that Cllr Pritchard has admitted the breach and apologised.
“Training is a proportionate response to the issue whereas the utilisation of taxpayers money in a formal investigation would, in our view, be disproportionate given the likely outcome.”
Bal Nahal, monitoring officer for Lichfield District Council, said Cllr Pritchard had now updated his register of interests.
“The audit and member standards (review) sub-committee has reviewed the complaint and found that, while Councillor Pritchard has not been involved in any council decisions relating to Chard Developments Ltd, he should have declared his role as a director of the company.
“Cllr Pritchard has apologised to the council and has updated his register of interests.
“Given his apology, the committee has advised that no further action is necessary.”
Cllr Pritchard told Lichfield Live: “The company never traded which is why I wrongly thought I did not need to include it in my register of interests.
“I never intended to deceive anyone.”