Councillors face public hearing on standards complaint

Two SIC councillors are to face a public hearing over a Standards Commission complaint relating to their decision to take part in a vote on the future of the agriculture industry.

South Mainland councillor Jim Budge and North Mainland member Addie Doull will appear before the commission at the Shetland Hotel on Thursday 8th July in relation to the complaint.

Mr Budge and Mr Doull declared an interest as members of Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG) but took part in a vote on whether to grant money to the organisation for an urgent business review.

The meeting of the council’s development committee was held on 22nd January 2009 and the anonymous complaint was submitted in March last year. It was a hot-tempered debate because of opposition to the now abandoned proposal for a slaughterhouse in a housing estate in Scalloway.

Mr Budge, who is a former chairman of SLMG, proposed that the group be granted £25,000 for the business review and was seconded by Mr Doull. They won the vote but then lost out to a subsequent vote to halve the amount granted towards the review.

No council lawyers were present to offer advice at the meeting but two representatives of the council’s legal and administration department, which advises councillors on protocol and tries to ensure they follow procedures correctly, did attend. Committee chairman Josie Simpson did not attempt to intervene to stop Mr Budge and Mr Doull taking part.

The chief investigating officer’s investigation was concluded recently and the hearing will look into the allegation that they contravened two sections of the councillors’ code of conduct, introduced as part of legislation in 2000 aimed at ensuring ethical standards in public life.

Mr Budge and Mr Doull are accused of breaching section 5.7 of the code relating to financial interests and section 5.16, which states: “Declaring a financial interest has the effect of prohibiting any participation in discussion and voting. You should leave the meeting room until discussion of the item of business is concluded.”


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