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Report reveals higher number of complaints about Lichfield and Burntwood councillors than usual

A report has revealed that a higher number of complaints than usual have been made about councillors in Lichfield and Burntwood this year.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council’s monitoring officer Christie Tims revealed it had been a “particularly busy” period compared to previous years.

So far 13 complaints have been received relating to the councillor code of conduct.

The officer revealed that certain areas had been hotspots for complaints.

“Of particular note is the focus on declarations of interest and the use of dispensations for members to ensure the efficient running of the council,” she said.

The local authority was hit by a number of issues relating to breaches of the code of conduct in the run up to the May local elections.

These included former Mayor Cllr David Leytham failing to declare his wife’s business on the register of interests, despite it being paid for services by Lichfield City Council, and Cabinet member Cllr Ashley Yeates also being told to update his register to reflect his role with an external business.

Cllr Mike Wilcox
Cllr Mike Wilcox

The former deputy leader of Lichfield District Council was also ordered to undertake additional training after failing to declare a directorship of a development company, while the former leader Cllr Mike Wilcox was also given a warning for using his official email to receive bookings for his holiday home in Menorca.

Cllr Jamie Checkland also apologised after failing to leave a meeting over the future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre, despite declaring an interest due to a role he held as a governor of The Friary School, which has inherited some facilities as part of a move to become an academy.

“Ensure lessons are learned from recent investigations”

The report to the meeting of Lichfield District Council’s audit and standards committee on 14th November said specific training had been introduced to help tackle the spike in complaints.

“Training was provided to district councillors on the members Code of Conduct and constitutional matters during the induction day in May,” the monitoring officer added.

“Further work is also planned to incorporate updated guidance from the Committee on Standards in Public Life following a review on Local Government Ethical Standards.

“This will also look at underpinning procedures for investigations and assessment committees to ensure best practice and lessons learned from recent investigations.

“Sessions to advise Parish Councillors of their responsibilities under the code of conduct will also be held in the New Year following the review as announced at Parish Forum.

“Following advice from South Staffordshire District Council’s legal team, dispensations have been put in place for members with pecuniary conflicts of interests due to spouses who are county council members.

“These are currently specific to matters relating to Friary Grange Leisure Centre and may need to be considered in future relative to the relationship in decision making to the county council interests.

“Members have also had extensive advice regarding pre-determination, in relation to petitions and also in respect of planning.”

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