Friday, 22 June 2007

Councillor Darren Parker suspended

On 20th June Councillor Darren Parker was suspended by the Council’s Standards Sub-Committee from participating in any Council Committees and directed to undertake further training in the "Councillors Code of Conduct". The Sub-committee found that, on Councilor Parker’s own admission, he had breached the Councillor’s Code of Conduct. The suspension is immediate and for a period of three months, which is the maximum period which the Sub-Committee could impose, or until he undertakes the training if earlier.

The breach concerned Councillor Parkers failure in July 2006 to declare a “personal interest”, namely his employment by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), before Chairing a Committee and using his casting vote to grant planning permission to the London Development Agency (LDA). The permission was for the demolition of historic buildings, including Dalston Theatre and Georgian houses, and building towerblocks. Council officers had relied upon CABEs favourable comments when recommending that the application be granted.

The Standards Sub-Committee stated that it was a difficult decision with finely balanced arguements. It also found that a member of the public, knowing the full facts, would not reasonably regard Cllr Parker’s employment by CABE as so significant that it would have been likely to prejudice his judgment of the public interest and thus have disqualified him from voting.

Councillor Parker had denied that the fact of his employment by CABE had influenced his votes in any way. Following the Committee’s verdict his representative said, in his mitigation, that he had been the victim of a “vicious and highly charged campaign” which sought to “challenge the authority of the Council” and which had affected his relationship with his employer.

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