Agenda and minutes

Standards Hearing Panel - Monday, 4th January, 2016 9.30 am

Venue: Civic Suite, Gibson Building, Kings Hill, West Malling

Contact: Committee Services  Email:

No. Item


SHS 16/2

Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest made in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

SHS 16/3

The Hearing Panel to determine whether the confidential report may be considered in public


The Hearing Panel was advised that the Hearing should be held in public unless it determined that there was a good reason to exclude the public. 


RESOLVED:  That the allegation that a member of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and of Borough Green Parish Council had breached the Codes of Conduct of those bodies be considered in public.

Matters for consideration in Private

SHS 16/4

Exclusion of Press and Public

The Chairman to move that the press and public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting during consideration of any items the publication of which would disclose exempt information


There were no items considered in private.

SHS 16/5

Code of Conduct Complaint against a Borough and Parish Councillor pdf icon PDF 71 KB

(Reasons: LGA 1972 Sch 12A Paragraph 1 and 2 – Information relating to an individual and information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual)

Additional documents:


The Hearing Panel of the Joint Standards Committee gave consideration to an allegation the Councillor Mike Taylor had breached the Borough Council’s Code of Conduct and that of Borough Green Parish Council, of which he was also a member.


The Panel received the report of the independent external investigator (Investigating Officer), Mr Richard Lingard, Solicitor, who had been appointed to carry out the investigation into the allegation.  The report contained details of the relevant legislation and protocols, evidence gathered, witness statements, a summary of the material facts and Councillor Taylor’s response to the complaint.  The Investigating Officer made an oral presentation to the Panel regarding the complaint made by Mr Barry Hughes, a resident of Borough Green, about the conduct of Councillor Mike Taylor of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Borough Green Parish Council in respect of a letter Councillor Taylor had sent to the Planning Inspectorate.  The report concluded that there had been a breach of the Codes of Conduct of the two authorities.


The Panel was requested to look at additional material introduced by Councillor Taylor prior to the Hearing which related to his relationship to the complainant as a member of Borough Green Parish Council.      


The Panel noted that Councillor Taylor had agreed to the findings of fact in the Investigating Officer’s report.  The Panel considered carefully the papers before it, determined the facts and found as follows:


(1)          In respect of the Borough Green Parish Council Code of Conduct, the Panel found that the code was engaged as Councillor Taylor had signed the letter as “Chairman of Borough Green Parish Council”.  Had he been acting in a purely personal capacity, there would have been no reason for doing so.  Councillor Taylor had acknowledged that he had signed the letter in that manner to give it greater weight.


(2)          Furthermore, Councillor Taylor had implied that, by the repeated use of the word “we” in the letter, he was acting for the Parish Council. In interview with the Investigating Officer Councillor Taylor had confirmed that he was acting in that capacity as he believed he was always “all three people” (i.e. a Borough Councillor, a Parish Councillor and a member of the public).  It was apparent that he was purporting to act in a representative capacity. 


(3)          The BGPC code required its members to act in a manner which a reasonable person would regard as respectful.  The first paragraph of the letter was disrespectful to the Borough Council’s planning officers as it impugned their professional integrity, by stating that they “always ignored” objections made against planning applications by the Parish Council, despite there being no evidence of this.  There is a clear difference between giving no regard to a representation and paying due regard to it, but coming to a conclusion that the person making the representation does not like.


(4)          The final paragraph of the letter was disrespectful to the Complainant, who was an ordinary member of the public, although it was alleged (with no evidence)  ...  view the full minutes text for item SHS 16/5

Decisions taken under delegated powers in accordance with Paragraph 3, Part 3 of the Constitution