For those who missed this groundbreaking meeting*, and to allow SOS followers to check that the minutes have been accurately recorded, Robert Crick’s question is reproduced below, with his permission.
(*when the advice of Chief Executive, Mark Williams, was overturned. He had insisted that planning issues could not legally be part of the TAFF’s remit when investigating the East Devon Business Forum. The O&S Committee was not convinced.)
Questions for EDDC Overview and Scrutiny, 28 March 2013
Thank you Chair.
Neighbours, will this committee offer thanks on behalf of East Devon’s council tax payers to Mr Mark Williams for his offer of free “independent legal advice” to this committee, and to the TAFF?
Or will you gratefully decline his generous insistence that he will provide what he described to the TAFF as “two for the price of one”?
Is there not room for concern about a potential conflict of interest when, in his role as District CEO, the CEO may himself be subject to scrutiny?
Can Mr Williams’s legal judgment be relied on?
He appears incapable of distinguishing between a potentially unsound process and its undeniable outcome? (The TAFF cannot call in the LDP but it can investigate the way it was developed.)
Is it appropriate for him to give you advice on how you as Chair of the Scrutiny committee may wish to put to him, personally, such questions as:
Does he regret giving misleading advice about the EDBF and its critics to the Right Honourable Hugo Swire when, on behalf of his constituents, our Member of Parliament made enquiries into apparent conflicts of interest and undue influence throughout the district over a substantial period?
Can Mr Williams explain his failure to take up the legitimate concerns of council tax payers about the alleged abuse of EDDC resources for which he is personally responsible, particularly in his role as line manager to the Economic Development Manager?
Who authorised Mr Williams’s instruction to the Economic Development Manager to absent himself from the recent TAFF meeting, which had important questions to put to that officer following his evasive and contradictory responses at its previous meeting?
When asking the police to investigate allegations against a local development consultant whose company has an annual turnover far lower than the salary of the Economic Development Officer, has Mr Williams advised the police that their remit should extend to the potential fraudulent use of resources and influence by those in EDDC who are significantly wealthier and more powerful than the unfortunately entrapped and obviously disgraced ex-Councillor Brown?
Will you ask the CEO to step down from the TAFF and the O&S committee?
Robert Crick, Sidmouth Futures Forum