A COUNCILLOR has raised questions over whether Mayor Gordon Oliver may have a potential conflict of interest as his plans for the ERTC budget are revealed.
Cllr Darren Cowell has written to Torbay Council bosses Steve Parrock and Anthony Butler (monitoring officer for governance) in the light of Mr Oliver's proposals to cut the budget for the English Riviera Tourism Company.
In his written questions, Cllr Cowell said: "I am aware of the budget proposals from the Mayor for devastating cuts to the ERTC.
"The debate about this proposal will be had elsewhere, but I would seek guidance and advice as to a possible conflict of interests.
"I note the Mayor's Register of Interests states he owns holiday and self-catering units in Seaway Lane and various properties including one in Belgrave Road, a prime holiday area.
"Are any of the properties connected in any way to the tourism industry. I am also aware the Mayor withdraws from debates about areas of the town in which he has property. Can you please provide opinion on any potential conflict of interest when dealing with proposals for the ERTC budget?"
It has been revealed the property in Belgrave Road is the HQ of the Torbay Tourism Association whose executive director, Linda Hill, is also Mr Oliver's partner. Association chairman Bill Vincent said: "As far as the conflict of interest allegations go, the Mayor has nothing to do with the association. It's just one of those things that the Mayor and Linda are partners. Let me make it 100 per cent clear, he was voted in democratically and he has nothing to do with our association.
"As far as the Mayor of Torbay and our association goes, the only association there is, is that the property was bought by part of the Mayor's family. It is a well-known fact the property is owned by the family and that's the end of it. It would have made life a lot easier if it wasn't.
"The association pays a fair rent and we do everything any other tenant and landlord does. It is purely a business arrangement."
He added: "The ERTC is needed, but how it's funded is a ball of contention. I can see both sides because the council has to make major cuts but at the same time the ERTC has cut costs. It will be a sad day if the ERTC went. We need it because it brings tourism to the Bay. I don't want to get into the politics of it all."
Ms Hill declined to comment.