A Labour councillor who is also the Deputy Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council has come under fire for taking on a new job working for a company which helps connect developers with local councils.
On The Community Communications Partnership website, the company boasts of their "deep understanding of how Council meetings work" and how "The CCP team is very experienced at conducting meetings through our senior roles in local government."
The matter was raised at the first West Oxfordshire District Council meeting of the year after a written question was submitted by the Conservative Group Leader Cllr Michele Mead asking the Leader of the Council if it was appropriate for the Deputy Leader to now be working for a company involved in work between the council and developers. In the response the Leader, Cllr Andy Graham, said, "The Deputy Leader is clear in his statement that in his role with the CCP he is not involved in any way, nor is he privy to any information, regarding developments within or impacting Oxfordshire or West Oxfordshire. Therefore, there is no conflict of interest with his role as Deputy Leader and Executive Member."
In response to the answer Cllr Mead questioned whether the Deputy Leader would remove himself from any decision making process related to the Local Plan Review that is currently taking place but the Leader wasn't able to confirm and instead Cllr Graham said Cllr Mead will "receive a written response."
After the meeting Cllr Mead added, "We aren't any clearer whether the Deputy Leader is liaising with developers on matters within West Oxfordshire other than his word. I'm afraid this isn't good enough and we don't think it's appropriate for him to be working with developers behind the backs of residents given the issues we face in this district with developers taking advantage."
District Council candidate for Witney East, James Robertshaw said, "Residents are rightly concerned about our councillor taking on such a role given Witney and West Oxfordshire having major issues with developers appearing to be building where they want. Duncan needs to decide if he backs the people who vote for him or the people who pay him."