David Leytham

A Lichfield councillor did breach Lichfield District Council’s code of conduct, it has emerged.

David Leytham

The local authority has released the report into a hearing over a complaint Cllr David Leytham had not listed his wife’s business on his register of interests.

His previous register of interests showed only that he and his wife held invigilation roles with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. However, an updated document posted since the local elections in May shows that his partner is a sole trader of The Pretty Little Parlour, which has supplied plants and floral displays to Lichfield City Council.

Cllr Leytham had previously been Mayor of Lichfield City Council before losing his seat in May. He was elected unopposed to Lichfield District Council in the Whittington and Streethay ward.

The report from the hearing on Monday said: “The committee agreed that a breach of the Code of Conduct for Lichfield District Council had occurred, in that Cllr Leytham had failed to register the business of his spouse and also failed to register the existence of a contractual relationship between the City Council and Pretty Little Parlour.

“The committee found that Cllr Leytham had not understood the letter and spirit of the Code of Conduct and resolved to censure Cllr Leytham and requested that he undertake Code of Conduct training.”

“It is clear that there is an active business”

A council investigator said that although Cllr Leytham had claimed the business was more of a hobby than an active business, the Pretty Little Parlour Company’s social media did not support this view.

The report added: “Given that Cllr Leytham identified the business undertaken by his spouse in 2015, it is difficult to see why this information was not then included in the February 2018 form.

“Cllr Leytham stated that the nature of the business had changed in recent years due to the ill-health of his wife. He stated that the work had been scaled back and what was now undertaken was now more akin to a hobby than an active business.

“I have viewed the Facebook page of the Pretty Little Parlour Company. It is clear from this that there is an active business.

“It would appear from the posts on this page and from information provided by Cllr Leytham that the nature of the business has changed. However, it is also clear that it does operate as a business.

“As such, it should have been included on the register of members interests form by Cllr Leytham.”

“Invoices were issued and paid”

The links with Lichfield City Council were also identified by the investigator after it emerged payments had been made to her company.

The report continued: “The register of members interests form completed by Cllr Leytham for Lichfield City Council dated February 2018 states that there are no contracts between the parties.

“It is clear from the posts on Facebook that that the Pretty Little Parlour Company did provide goods/services to the city council.

“The list of invoices from Lichfield City Council shows that from May 2016 to the end of 2018 11 invoices were issued and paid.

“When asked about this element, Cllr Leytham stated that it never occurred to him to amend his form as it never occurred to him that there was a business arrangement.

“He stated that the work undertaken by his wife for the city council was either done at cost or less. He stated that his wife had given around £500 in silk flowers to the city council.

“Cllr Leytham accepts that he should have amended his form to show the relationship and transactions between his wife and Lichfield City Council.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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11 Comments

  1. Given that all this information is now in the public domain, it does beg the question “Why was this a private meeting”?

    I’ve referred this and other examples of “private meetings” to the Local Gov Ombudsman. As a long standing Snr Civil Servant myself, I find the behaviour of LDC deeply worrying in what is supposed to be an era of “open government”.

    VERY WORRYING.

  2. As the name of the complainant in the issued paperwork for this case has been redacted, in the interests of openness (Nolan Principle number 5), I will “out” myself as the person who raised the complaint back in February, prior to my election as a Chadsmead Councillor.

    I will not comment directly on this case because it has been dealt with by the sub-committee. The papers note that as the complainant I was invited to attend but declined to do so. This was because I had had sight of the investigation reports in advance of the hearing and felt that they covered the nature and substance of the complaint in good detail and hence I could not add anything further to the process.

    As a more general level, the completion of register of interests forms was covered at the recent induction day for Councillors. The advice from officers was very clear – disclose everything. There was not a single example raised in the room where the answer from officers was that disclosure wasn’t necessary. Updating register of interests forms is now an online process that takes less than five minutes to complete. I know this because I’ve updated mine twice already since the May elections.

    There really is no excuse now for forms to be out of date or incomplete.

    I am aware of a number of residents who regularly review register of interests forms and conduct checks against other publicly available information. As Councillors we shouldn’t be surprised that this happens given the issues that have been highlighted over the past 9 months or so, but it is important that we all embrace this responsibility. The 7th Nolan Principle requires that we actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs. If there are any more failures of disclosure it could be that we are all seen to have failed to apply the right level of challenge. This would not sit comfortably with me so I will continue to drive transparency and take up concerns which are brought to my attention.

  3. As ever, the cover-up is worse than the crime.

    Who cares if Mrs Leytham sold flowers to Lichfield City Council as part of a faux vanity business project?

    No one.

    Who cares if Cllr Leytham is too embarrassed to declare this as an interest? Who cares if this is subject to an in-camera compliancy hearing, the findings of which are reluctantly released under pressure from hyper-local journalists?

    Everyone.

    Well, maybe not everyone.

    Probably almost no one actually
    .
    Most Lichfield residents are wilfully oblivious to the goings on in local government. This isn’t helped by the woeful lack of media coverage of local politics (Lichfield Live excepted).

    It’s this void that breeds the culture of micro-elitism and entitlement in those that seek personal advancement via local politics.

    ‘I was the Mayor of Lichfield once,’ he exclaimed.

    ‘Yes dear, now back to bed with you.’

  4. Given the number of “retraining” events maybe LDC should check the credentials of the training Co because they really can’t be doing it correctly.

  5. In relation to Joanne Grange”s comment …. If the complaint was raised in Feb, before the local elections, then the hearing itself should have been before said elections. This would have enabled the residents of Cllr Leytham’s ward would have been fully aware of his action and been able to make a better informed decision on whether to vote for him. …. I wonder was this was not the case???

  6. @DS – Whittington and Streethay was one wards where there was no election and the candidates were returned uncontested.

  7. @Joanne Grange….it matters very little that nobody else stood. Has this been made public before the election, somebody could have stood. It’s another example of strategic time tabling from a council that has self preservation at its very rotten core.

  8. @Sminty – absolutely agree. I don’t know why this too so long to reach a conclusion but it doesn’t present the council in a good light. It’s not good that we had so many uncontested wards (Electoral Reform Society has us 5th in the league table of “rotten boroughs” as a result) so I really hope more people stand next time.

  9. @Joanne Grange – it’s really depressing. I’m sympathetic to those that don’t bother to stand to be honest…..it does seem like the general Lichfield electorate have very little interest in making informed decisions at Local Elections. If they did, it’s hard to imagine how they would possibly vote for the current lot, whose legacy seems to be very little more than failed projects, huge financial loss, misconduct and self interest. We had a new councillor stand for our ward (won’t mention name), but they were young, energetic, heavily involved in community projects and they didn’t get a look in – votes wise. The already serving Con councillor was re-elected.

    Lichfield electorate really need to start paying attention to the issues with the current council.

    We desperately need another avenue to continually report the ineptitude of LDC as this site (as appreciated as it is), doesn’t seem to be working.

    Any thoughts?

  10. @Sminty – probably nothing that hasn’t already been thought about. Certainly engage with your councillors and let them know your views – most do read LL so should be aware of what people are thinking but direct contact can be more powerful. There’s the Local Government Ombudsman and also direct feedback to the council through the LDC website as avenues for complaints. But I really would encourage people to get involved and stand – the more variety of voices the better.

  11. Thanks Jo. I have made several referrals / complaints to the LGO recently – and am awaiting feedback from them.

    I did wonder about a newsletter (paper format), as that would at least get into peoples’ hands. I really do think there’s a massive disconnect between the council and it’s voters.

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