Hunts council ex-chairman could face suspension

THE former chairman of a Huntingdonshire parish council is to be investigated over claims that he breached the councillors’ code of conduct by making a loan from parish council funds to the then clerk.

David Paine, who was not re-elected earlier this year as chairman of Upwood and the Raveleys Parish Council, faced two complaints to the monitoring officer at Huntingdonshire District Council.

The other was that he failed to declare a proper interest over allocations of council allotments. In that instance, HDC said, “the sub-committee thought the best remedy would be for Mr Paine to receive training and for that training to be offered to the parish council as a whole.”

But the more serious matter has been referred by the monitoring officer, the council’s chief lawyer Colin Meadowcroft, for independent investigation.

If found proved, the maximum penalty that can be imposed by the district council is six months’ suspension from office. Lesser penalties include censure or a requirement for training.

If the matter is considered to be more serious, it can be referred to the First Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards of England) which can disqualify a councillor for up to five years. The tribunal also considers appeals made by councillors against a decision of a standards committee of a local authority.

The former clerk is under police investigation in relation to the council’s finances.