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The leader of Lichfield District Council has been issued with a warning by the local authority after offering holidaymakers the chance to book an apartment in Menorca via his official email address.
Cllr Mike Wilcox was found to have published his email details on a website promoting a holiday rental apartment in Menorca which was set up in 2011.
The two-bedroom property called Chapel Porth Apartment – which at the time the site was created was available to rent for £350 a week during high season – is described as being part of a complex which “features a swimming pool and outside terrace”.
Located close to Cala Blanca’s two beaches and near the town of Ciutedella, the apartment’s website offers tips on places to visit and eat, before inviting would-be holidaymakers to contact Cllr Wilcox via phone, a dedicated email or his official council email address – a move which is in breach of the local authority’s official policy.
Bal Nahal, monitoring officer at Lichfield District Council, confirmed that the leader had been taken to task over his actions.
“Councillors can use their council email for personal use, but are not allowed to publish their email addresses other than for council business,” she said.
“I have advised Cllr Mike Wilcox that this is considered a breach of policy and have given him a warning.”
But Cllr Wilcox has insisted that at the time the website was created, he had not flouted any rules.
“I have apologised for this infringement,” he told Lichfield Live.
“At the time I was unaware this was a breach of policy – and in fact, the regulations at the time allowed you to use your email address.
“I have asked for this site to be removed.”
The news is the latest blow to the Conservative leadership who have already seen the deputy leader told to undertake training on the council’s code of conduct after being found to hold an undeclared company directorship.
Cllr Ian Pritchard apologised for the omission from his register of interests, claiming he was not aware that it needed to be declared.
Another member of the six-strong leadership team – Cllr Ashley Yeates – was also forced to amend his register after a similar undeclared directorship in a dormant property development business was unearthed.
But it has also emerged that Cllr Yeates did not declare an interest during a 2017 meeting involving the Lichfield Garrick, despite the fact he held a role with Brian Yeates Associates Ltd, a company that had previously been paid more than £60,000 by the city theatre.
Bal Nahal added: “In relation to Cllr Ashley Yeates, Brian Yeates Asociates Ltd, of which he is a director, hires the Lichfield Garrick and the £66,000 figure represents ticket sales from shows the company has produced.
“However, as he has a contractual relationship, albeit as a client of the Lichfield Garrick, he should have declared this in any meetings concerning the Lichfield Garrick and I have reminded him of the requirement to do so in the future.”
Lichfield District Council has also confirmed that councillors have been reminded of their responsibilities to keep their registers of interest accurate.
“Slipshod and cavalier”
Since Lichfield Live published the details of the undeclared directorships of the two Cabinet members, at least 13 councillors have updated their documents on the local authority’s website.
Opposition Labour leader, Cllr Sue Woodward, said the continued issues were unacceptable, both in terms of the council rules and the perception the public had of elected representatives.
“To be frank, I’m just very disappointed,” she said. “I expect high standards from myself and my Labour group, but it seems that things have all become a little too slipshod and cavalier in the controlling Conservative group.
“It does none of us any good in the eyes of the public because it’s not just about complying with the letter of the rules but about public perception.
“We are all required to hold to the Nolan Principles of standards in public life including transparency and leadership.
“The councillors concerned should be reminded of these.”