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Agenda item

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

 

To receive questions from members of the public who may wish to ask a general question of the Mayor, Cabinet Member or the Chairman of a Committee in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.

Minutes:

(1)  Mr. Harron was unable to attend the meeting so would be provided with a written response to his question.

 

(2)  Mr. Reynolds asked what was the total sum, year by year, of financial support provided by RMBC to MAGNA to date and he also asked that the total cost plus for example loans, gifts, written off debts etc., plus any interest charged, accrued or cancelled be included.

 

Councillor Alam confirmed there have been no new loans to Magna since 2015.  The current total value of loans to Magna was £440k with the interest outstanding of £26,000.

 

No debts have been written off and no interest had been cancelled.  There was no other financial support provided to Magna apart from the loans already mentioned.

 

In a supplementary question Mr. Reynolds asked of the £440k outstanding what plans were in place to recover the funds and over what period and also what penalties were in place for missed payments.

 

Councillor Alam confirmed an agreement was in place with Magna about what they would be repaying over the next few years.  There were no cancellations of any payments.

 

(3)  Mr. Thirlwall asked could the Leader of the Opposition and the Chair of Standards and Ethics Committee tell him what actions they have taken to encourage UKIP Councillors to stop breaking the law and properly complete their Register of Interests.

 

Councillor McNeely pointed out the Constitution did not allow for questions to be put to the Leader of the Opposition at Council so she, as Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee, would answer. 

 

As previously stated in answers to questions of this nature previously it was a matter for each individual Councillor to be personally responsible for ensuring compliance with the law in respect of their Register of Interests and all Councillors have been reminded of their responsibilities in this regard in writing as part of a recent Member update.

 

If any individual had concerns in respect of the accuracy of a Member’s Register of interest they should report their concerns to the Council's Standards and Ethics Committee or the Police for investigation.  Any allegations in this regard could potentially be a criminal matter.

 

In a supplementary question Mr. Thirlwall expressed his confusion that the Leader of the Opposition who received an allowance of £8,000 a year could not answer questions about the members that he led.

 

In October, 2018 and again in January, 2019 he named a number of people that had not completed their Register of Interests.  From the list one of them had completed their Register of Interest, two have been referred to the Monitoring Officer for dubious explanations of why they had not registered their properties or where they lived.  Another Member had still not completed his Register of Interest at all, even though it was known he was a property owner.

 

As a lay person Mr. Thirlwall was not able to investigate once the nominations have closed so was unable to find out where candidates said they were living at the time of the election and after that time they were destroyed.

 

Mr. Thirlwall, therefore, asked if this information could be looked at and at the same time he was aware of something to do with “Common Purpose”.  He also asked if any of the Elected Members were members of Common Purpose should it have been included on their Register of Interests. It would also be helpful if the Chief Executive could confirm if any officers were members of Common Purpose.

 

Councillor McNeely reiterated that it was only when Members had a change of circumstances they were likely to amend their Register of interests.  She took on board Mr. Thirlwall’s comments and pointed out that should he have any concerns over any individual then there was no reason why he could not put that forward via the Complaints Procedure.

 

As a Parish Councillor Mr. Thirlwall was fully aware of the Code of Conduct, but Councillor McNeely would meet up with the Monitoring Officer and chase up the issues on Mr. Thirlwall’s behalf.