in the last three weeks I’ve been tipped off that councillor Mike Slaughter
backed the extension of opening hours at the Sidcup branch of Morrisons while
being a shareholder in that company. I scanned the Planning Committee minutes
for clues but found nothing definitive and without proof it is only
tittle-tattle and best avoided. But yesterday someone sent me the November 2011
newsletter of the Sidcup Community Group and there it was as bold as brass…
“We will not be able to rely on Bexley’s Planning department that’s for sure. No surprise that increased opening hours of Morrisons was supported by a councillor who holds shares in the company.” On the assumption that the SCG is not in the habit of making things up some research was called for. My mistake it turns out was checking the Bexleyheath Chronicle last month and not the Sidcup edition. Editor Bob Griffiths has the story too.
“Councillor [Mike] Slaughter declared he had some shares in the company [Morrisons]… The Chairman invited comments from the twelve members present and not one had any questions so it was put to the vote. Who took the lead to approve? Councillor M. Slaughter.”
Council’s generally define what they mean by a “Prejudicial Interest” and make their policy available on the web. All those I have checked define relevant share holdings as prejudicial and all but a few councils require that affected members should remove themselves from any meeting. A very few exempt small share holdings. Bexley council appears not to publish its policy but the minutes of many of its meetings record councillors withdrawing as one would expect. Why did councillor Slaughter think he should be different?