‘East Devon Alliance (EDA) notes the statement issued today by Devon and Cornwall Police that they have decided not to continue their inquiry into the activities of former councillor Graham Brown because of insufficient evidence.
Following the “Councillors for Hire” report in the Daily Telegraph of March 11 2013, EDA was contacted by several people who wished for information to be given to the police. EDA did this on a number of occasions between May 2013 and September 2014.
EDA has therefore followed the conduct of the inquiry with interest. It has been concerned by initial delays caused by an erroneous referral to Action Fraud following the Daily Telegraph revelations, slow progress once the inquiry was underway, and the apparently limited resources devoted to the investigation.
The Alliance is now considering what action it might take to express these concerns in the appropriate forum.
Whatever the result of the police inquiry, EDA agrees with the statement of the EDDC Majority Whip Phil Twiss, in a letter to councillors on 17 March 2013, that he was “hugely disappointed that the inappropriate actions of a former member of the EDDC Conservative group has brought (the council) into disrepute”.
Urgent questions remain concerning the role played by Mr Brown in determining planning policy at EDDC and shaping the failed Local Plan. It is vitally important that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee resumes its much-delayed investigation into the Council’s relations with business, particularly with the East Devon Business Forum of which Mr Brown was chairman.
However, we are very concerned that EDDC’s Chief Executive, Mark Williams, has responded to today’s announcement by writing to all councillors demanding the exclusion of a named councillor from this vital inquiry, and that its scope be limited. ‘
Notes for editors:
1.The Daily Telegraph article “Councillors for Hire” of 11 March 2013:
and follow-up article of 11th November 2013