Councillors rapped over failure to declare interests

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News

Two parish councillors have been formally censured after failing to disclose a conflict of interests during meetings.

Slapton parish councillors Alan Dugard and David Wright spoke in favour of plans for a 180-berth marina to be constructed at the village’s moorings at a parish council meeting in February 2015.

The latter also discussed a planning application for 18 houses during a meeting in January 2015.

This was in spite of the fact that Cllr Dugard owned the company behind both ventures. His company, Interguide Ltd, also owned the home of Cllr Wright.

The standards committee hearing of Aylesbury Vale District Council stated: “Cllr Dugard explained that he knew and was friendly with Cllr Wright, he said at interview that if he had to choose another father it would be Cllr Wright.”

Although Slapton parish council supported the marina application, it was decisively rejected by AVDC in June 2015 after a planning officer said it was “unsustainable”.

The standards committee ruled both men had breached the parish council’s code of conduct. The committee heard that Cllr Dugard did not have a register of interests until May 13, 2015 although he had become a parish councillor in 2012.

During interviews, Cllr Dugard admitted to being “The biggest employer” in Slapton.

His business interests in the village include Bury Farm Equestrian Centre, Jesters store, the veterinary practice and the only pub in the village – The Carpenter’s Arms.

In addition, Cllr Dugard faced allegations of bullying over discussions for his marina planning application that took place at two open forums in February and March 2015.

A complaint stated: “Councillor Dugard’s attitude was aggressive and bullying... he

interrupted people on several occasions when they were expressing views he did not

like.”

AVDC ruled that Cllr Dugard had attended both open forum meetings in a personal role and the allegation did not stand. The standards committee also ordered Slapton parish council to revise its policy – with published declarations of interests and improved training.

Cllr Dugard failed to respond to requests for an interview as the LBO went to press