893 gifts or hospitality from developers in 6 years did not influence councillor’s decisions says Monitoring Officer [insert hollow laugh here]

On average accepted gifts or hospitality 3 times a week, every week for 6 years! But he resigned anyway ….. deja vu, deja vu says Owl!

“The Deputy Leader of Westminster Council has resigned following an internal investigation into his conduct.

Deputy Leader Robert Davis announced today he is to resign “with immediate effect” after 36 years of service.

Mr Davis’s resignation comes after he reportedly accepted hospitality or gifts 893 times over six years. These gifts frequently came from property developers who were seeking planning permission, according to the Guardian.

In a statement, Mr Davis said: “I am very proud of my 36 years’ service in local government during which I made a major contribution to the wellbeing of the City and its people.

“Earlier this year there was some press coverage concerning the hospitality I received during the course of my duties. To avoid this becoming an issue in this year’s elections, I agreed to refer myself to the Monitoring Officer, and stand aside as Deputy Leader while an investigation was carried out.”

Mr Davis, who chaired the Conservative borough’s planning committee for 17 years, continued: “My approach to declarations has always been to be honest, open and transparent. I have nothing to hide.

“I registered all my hospitality and it was posted by officers on the Council’s website. I have been making such declarations since 2007 when the requirement was first introduced.

“I also declared any relevant interests at the beginning of every planning committee I chaired during this time. I have acted with the utmost transparency and probity at all times and have only ever taken decisions on the basis of what I thought was best for Westminster.

“An inquiry has been completed by the Council. They have confirmed that none of the declarations I made or hospitality I received influenced decisions I took as a councillor and that nothing I did was unlawful.”

He said his actions “created a perception that was negative to the Council.

“While I dispute this, I wish to draw a line under the matter. It is now time for me to move on to the next stage in my life, and for the next generation of councillors to lead Westminster.”


One thought on “893 gifts or hospitality from developers in 6 years did not influence councillor’s decisions says Monitoring Officer [insert hollow laugh here]

  1. As I have said before, at least the Westminster Council Monitoring Officer insisted on every gift and every item of hospitality being meticulously recorded.

    East Devon District Council has a far laxer policy (indeed so lax that councillors can pretty much ignore it) – they require councillors only to declare hospitality or gifts if they are given in connection with your official role. So all you need to do is to decide that the gift or hospitality is not related to your official role, and you don’t have to declare it.

    So if, for example, a developer invited you to attend the Exeter Chiefs game in their corporate box, during which they could have an off the record chat with you, and the developer said that the invite was to you “as an individual” rather than to you as (say) “a member of the Development Management Committee”, then you wouldn’t need to declare that hospitality.

    On the other hand, if you attend the local Chamber of Commerce public dinner specifically as (say) the Leader of the Council, then you need to declare that you received hospitality (even though everyone knows you were there and perhaps even the local paper quoted your brief after-dinner speech). However if you compare the list of dinners attended by some councillors in their formal role as reported in the press with their declarations of hospitality, you might find that even these have not been recorded.

    Transparency? What transparency?


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