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Complaint against mayor's decision on club heard today

By This is Devon  |  Posted: August 02, 2010

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AN official complaint against Torbay Mayor Nick Bye is to be investigated by the council's standards committee today.

Anti-development protesters who are unhappy about plans to spend £20 million on building about 120 homes on land at Churston Golf Club say Mr Bye has broken the council's code of conduct.

The members of RAGS — Residents Against Golf Club Sell-Off — are furious Mr Bye gave permission to vary the club's lease, allowing development of the site.

Their complaint specifically focuses on the mayor's later decision to declare a conflict of interest and pass responsibility to deputy mayor Chris Lewis.

The RAGS members said Mr Bye should have made his declaration before allowing a variation to the lease.

They wrote to council chief executive Elizabeth Raikes demanding an investigation into Mr Bye's conduct.

The complaint is due to be considered by the referrals sub-committee of the council's standards committee, who can reach one of three decisions.

These are to refer the allegation to the monitoring officer of the council concerned for investigation or some other action such as mediation or training; refer the allegation to the Standards Board for England or decide that no action should be taken.

RAGS committee member Allan George said if they are not satisfied with the response, the group will take their complaint to the Standards Board for England, the County Auditor based in Exeter and the Local Authority Ombudsman.

"We have clearly got to go through the correct process but if we are dissatisfied with the council's response we will take this complaint further," he said.

"I don't see how the mayor could suddenly back out of the situation and dream up a reason why he's not involved."

In a letter to the council Mr George said: "The mayor has excluded his further actions because he believes there is a conflict of interest due to his family estate agent's firm, Eric Lloyd and Co, possibly being instructed in selling or dealing with the properties.

"By his actions, the mayor, in agreeing initially to the proposition that an assignment could be made, has failed to recognise that he had a conflict of interest and made a decision which was, or could have been, affected by such conflict of interest."

A council spokesman said: "The complaint is due to be considered at a referral sub committee on Monday and the complainant will be notified of the outcome in due course.

"This is being carried out in accordance with the local protocol on local assessment and investigation of allegations of misconduct by members."

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    scrooge, membury  |  August 02 2010, 7:09PM

    Doubtless the investigation will show Mr Bye-Bye to have done nothing wrong, but then it would, seeing his own cronies are looking into the matter!