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Councillor investigated for interfering with a planning application

05 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Michelle Morris – The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter

A councillor has been under investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales following complaints of interfering with a planning application.

In a report published by the Ombudsman last month it was revealed that an un-named Blaenau Gwent County Borough Councillor had been investigated for potentially breaking the council’s Code of Conduct over the issue.


Ombudsman, Michelle Morris explained: “The Ombudsman received a complaint that a member of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council may have breached the Code of Conduct.

“It was alleged that the member became involved in the complainant’s planning application despite being advised not to by the council’s legal team.”

Ms Morris explained that that during the investigation the complainant had withdrawn the accusation.

But Ms Morris explained that a decision was still needed by her and the investigating team on whether to continue the investigation on reasons of “public interest.”

Public interest

Ms Morris said: “In determining whether it would be in the public interest to continue with the investigation a number of factors were considered.”

These factors included whether the councillor had a history of interfering in planning issues, the complainants wishes and whether the public had been affected by a matter of “wider concern.”

Ms Morris said: “In this case of the member’s actions did not extend beyond involvement in matters related to the complainant and did not negatively impact the public.

“It also remained unclear the extent of the impact that the member’s involvement had on the planning application, given that approval was granted, and it was continuing to progress.”

“Therefore, it was decided to discontinue the investigation.”

The councillors code of conduct forms part of the council’s constitution and the document was updated in February.

According to the code councillors are expected to adhere to several principles which includes: openness, accountability, honesty, integrity and propriety, a duty to uphold the law, objectivity in decision making, equality and respect.

Ms Morris was managing director of the borough council up until the end of March 2022, when she assumed the Ombudsman’s role.

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