Letter to the EHDC's Deputy Monitoring Officer, Jeff Hughes

Letter from the BSCF about the conduct of Councillor Mike Tindale during the Development Control Committee meeting held in public on 25 August, 2011

Jeff Hughes
The Deputy Monitoring Officer
East Herts Council
Council Offices
Wallfields
Pegs Lane
Hertford
SG13 8EQ
20 September 2011

Complaint about the conduct of Mike Tindale at the Development Control Committee meeting on Thursday 25th August 2011

Details of the complaint

1. The incident took place at the meeting of the Development Control Committee on 25th August 2011.

2. Before the Committee had reached a decision on the planning application and before members of the Committee had spoken, but after all the witnesses had spoken, Cllr Tindale said to the Committee amongst other things:

“I speak as the person responsible for reaching agreement with Hendersons three years ago. Under discussion three years ago the proposal went to full Council and it was agreed that the Causeway would be demolished and that a mixed use development would come forward. Members spoke and voted and the decision was made under the full glare of public debate.

To renege on that principle now.....would be morally bankrupt not because it would be unfair to Hendersons but because it would undermine the authority of East Herts. District Council.

3. I have examined the minutes of both the Executive and Council meetings held at the beginning of 2009. There is no mention of a resolution or a debate on the mixed use development on the site, though the Executive Committee meeting of the 17th March 2009 shows the resolution concerning the surrender of the Council’s lease and obtaining alternative space in Charrington House for the Council’s use. This was passed at the subsequentCouncil Meeting. However the Overage agreement between EHDC and Hendersons is clear that the Council, as landowners, in paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3 will do everything they can to assist Hendersons to obtain the necessary consents while, as local authority, in Para 4.6 maintain its powers, obligations and duties as a Planning Authority. This document was not publicly debated and the Civic Federation only obtained a copy through an FOI request. How the Council believed that it was possible to address these two conflicting obligations at the same time is unclear though Cllr Tindale’s intimidatory intervention at the Planning Control Committee Meeting showed that he was very much on the side of promises to Hendersons rather than the neutrality of the Committee.

It is surprising, incidentally, that neither the Chairman nor Mr Steptoe thought it necessary to remind the Committee of Para. 1.5 in the officers report that told them to ignore previous arrangements and decisions in their planning decision making process.

4. I believe that Cllr Tindale is in breach of the following items in the Councillors' Code of Conduct:

3.2(c) You must not intimidate or attempt to intimidate, any person who is (iii) involved in the administration of any investigation or proceedings.

3 (d) You must not do anything which compromises or is likely to compromise, the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, your Authority.

5 You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.

6. (b)(1) You must act in accordance with your Authority’s reasonable requirements.

Remedy sought

The behaviour of Cllr. Tindale was in front of a public audience of about 300 people and reported at length in the local paper. Such outrageous breaches of the Code of Conduct have done much disservice not only to the reputation of the Councillor but also to the District Council.

The only appropriate remedy is for the Councillor to be suspended for six months.

Michael Hurford
President, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation