A FORMER mayor, whose code of conduct appeal hearing was held behind closed doors, says councillors need more guidance over declarable interests.

County councillor and former Hereford mayor Jim Kenyon was found in breach of Herefordshire Council’s code of conduct on October 16 for failing to declare an interest at a planning committee meeting on October 4, 2017.

The press and public were barred from the appeal hearing but the Hereford Times can reveal that Coun Kenyon, who was a member of It’s Our County at the time of the planning meeting, had failed to declare that he was a friend of Angela Tyler.

Ms Tyler was the agent acting on behalf of applicant Martin Crockett, husband of Independent councillor Pauline Crockett.

Mr Crockett had asked for permission to build a single storey home on land next to the Old Chapel in Tillington and it was referred to the committee by Coun Crockett as it was a member application.

“You are never too old to learn a lesson,” Coun Kenyon said.

“I have sat on the planning committee on and off for six years and helped with the decision-making process.

“I understood that, as a councillor, you have to declare an interest if you have a close personal relationship with anyone involved in the application.

“I did not think that being a Facebook friend and helping to raise awareness and money for a charity, that the person is involved in, as one of three charities I supported during my year as Mayor of Hereford, would bring me foul of the rules.

“I think the council have to improve guidance that is given to councillors and I understand this will be the case.

“On a personal note, the person who made the complaint after the meeting said it was nothing personal, just politics. I have a lot to learn about that too.

“I feel the procedure followed by the council for complaints against councillors could and should be improved on and I accept the findings.”

On the day of the planning committee meeting, Independent councillor Phil Edwards proposed approving the proposals despite the professional advice of planning officers who had recommended rejecting the scheme.

His motion was seconded by Conservative councillor Bruce Baker and it was approved with seven votes for it, three against and there were two abstentions.

Committee vicechairman John Hardwick, also an Independent, was the only member to declare an interest regarding the scheme.

He declared a non-pecuniary interest because he knew the applicant.