Seaton councillor suspended from office

PUBLISHED: 18:08 09 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:44 15 June 2010

A SEATON town councillor has been suspended from public office for two months for improperly trying to influence a decision.

A SEATON town councillor has been suspended from public office for two months for improperly trying to influence a decision. Former mayor John Meakin breached a councillors' code of conduct when he failed to say his daughter Rebecca had links with a planning application the council was considering.Cllr Meakin chaired a meeting on Seaton Heights in January of last year and proposed approval - despite Rebecca acting as an agent for the applicant. According to the code, he should have declared a prejudicial interest and left the council chamber.And evidence showed his wife owned the letting agency Tyranna Estates and Consultancies, where Rebecca worked, which worked with Nick Spyzsnyk - an associate of the applicant, Mick Gripton.Cllr Meakin said he did not believe he had breached the code at the time because he knew his daughter had worked for Tyranna Estates but did not instruct on behalf of the applicant, M2 Developments.He also denied any connection with M2 owner Mick Gripton for many years. But he later admitted that on occasion he had gone back to his house for a drink after council meetings with other councillors.Cllr Meakin later acknowledged during the hearing that Mr Spyzsnyk, whom his daughter worked with, was a friend and associate of Mr Gripton.The East Devon District Council Standards Committee determination stated: "Despite all these 'alarm bells,' Cllr Meakin chose not to declare a prejudicial interest and leave the council chamber."Graham Rowe [investigating officer] stated that Cllr Meakin went on to chair the meeting and propose approval for the planning application in question, which was clearly an attempt to improperly influence the committee."Mr Rowe added there had been 'blatant disregard' for the provisions of the code, but it was for the sub committee to decide if it was due to serious misunderstanding or a lack of respect.Cllr Meakin will have to undertake training on the Code of Conduct during his suspension. The sub-committee has also demanded a written apology be sent to the Standards Committee.Cllr Meakin claimed to have made a decision to declare a personal interest only, because he believed the working relationship of his daughter was not prejudicial so far as it affected the application.

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