Ely's new mayor breached code of conduct by failing to leave meeting about relocating CCTV camera near home
PUBLISHED: 13:10 24 May 2012
THE new Mayor of Ely has been found guilty of breaching councillors' code of conduct after one of his neighbours made a complaint about him failing to leave a meeting.
Councillor William Burton - who is chairman of the City of Ely CCTV committee - neither declared an interest nor left a meeting when a camera just four doors from his home was discussed.
Neighbour Gaynor Griffiths had been trying to get the camera moved from outside her home because it was causing damage to her property.
She made the complaint against Cllr Burton after discovering he had not supported a recommendation from council officers to move the camera. He also failed to declare any interest.
After a three-hour East Cambs District Council standards committee hearing, the complaint that Cllr Burton failed to declare a personal or prejudicial interest, and failed to leave the CCTV meeting, was upheld.
As a sanction, Cllr Burton was told he must undertake training on the council’s code of conduct before June 30.
Chairman Philip Taylor told Cllr Burton, who is also a member of East Cambridgeshire District Council: “We have taken into account that you were chairman of the committee, and you still do not acknowledge there was a breach.
“You were motivated and were working for the benefit of the people of Ely, and there has never been any suggestion that you acted to obtain an advantage.”
Mr Taylor also suggested that the clerk and all members of the City of Ely Council should also undergo training.
Ms Griffiths did not attend the meeting, but her statement said she was “bewildered” after a CCTV committee meeting on November 29 recommended that the CCTV camera outside her home should stay when community safety officer Nick Ball had recommended that it be moved.
She claimed that the suggested new camera sites had been opposite Cllr Burton’s home, but he refuted that. The final decision over camera locations is taken by East Cambs Council.
Cllr Burton told the committee: “When the question of this particular camera problem arose, it did not cross my mind to declare an interest.”
He also said: “My job is not to comply with the recommendations of officers willy nilly.”
He had told an investigating officer: “I have no problem with the CCTV camera being where it is, or if it had been moved. I don’t think I have a personal interest.
“The proposed other positions are not outside my home. It in no way crossed my mind and in no way affected my views.”
After the committee delivered its verdict, Cllr Burton said: “I recognise where they are coming from. But I am not happy that it allows me to carry out my duties of a councillor with these restraints, of having no definitive ruling about what is considered an interest.”