Corruption could never occur in Local Government? -Owl
Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com
Questions have been asked on how Mid Devon’s leader is not at risk of corruption after a report by Transparency International UK. Councillor Barry Warren (Lower Culm, Non-Aligned) spoke at a Mid Devon Council meeting on Wednesday, July 6, saying that they released a report entitled Corruption in UK Local Government The Mounting Risks.
He said: “On page 43 of the report is a paragraph which reads ‘council leaders have considerable patronage power which can facilitate corruption. They are able to appoint the members of their cabinet and award chairmanships, all roles which bring financial gain for the recipients in the form of special responsibility allowances.
“This may lead to situations where councillors are unwilling to challenge a leader because they fear losing one of these roles, or where they feel obliged to provide informal favours, such as offering information or turning a blind eye to misconduct.’”
He continued: “Since 2019 election two additional cabinet posts have been created. Seven cabinet members have been removed from their portfolios and replaced by other members and two changes of chairman of scrutiny committee have been instigated. What assurance can the leader give to the residents who are administered by Mid Devon District Council that there is no risk of potential corruption as identified in that report?”
Leader of the council, Councillor Bob Deed (Cadbury, Independent) responded saying: “What you’ve just read out probably applies to Westminster, but it certainly does not apply to Mid District Council.
“In terms of patronage as leader, I have always taken the view that the appointments that I make are based on the available members who would be suitable for the post which I am requesting them to undertake at the time.
“Throughout the last three years, the cabinet at any one time has represented the best available talent that was at my disposal. Patronage doesn’t come into it and never will come into it. I’m not sure that the leader from memory has any control over any committee chair apart from the cabinet because he’s in situ.
“I don’t know why you should think that there might be a problem among members of the cabinet or the leader’s approach in Mid Devon. When I was in the city, I was always considered somebody to be trusted, which was why 25 years ago I had £500million to control in terms of lending. My director never asked me about anything.”
Cllr Warren added: “I wasn’t thinking anything. I saw this and thought we ought to get it out the way because somebody raised it with me from outside. That clears the air nicely.”