NORTHERN Midlands councillor and former Member for Lyons Dick Adams has received a caution from the councillor conduct panel for failing to disclose that his wife was the only public objector to a vote he participated in.
Dee Alty made a public submission on the item, which considered a planning application by Longford Primary School to have a shipping container placed in its yard for storage.
Ms Alty – who was also on the Longford District Committee – opposed the application on visual appearance and heritage grounds.
It came to a vote at the August 2018 meeting where Cr Adams moved an amendment to have the shipping container removed within two years, then voted in favour.
A complaint was lodged with the council on 10 grounds, three of which were upheld by the code of conduct panel, finding that Cr Adams should have declared a conflict of interest but did not need to remove himself from the vote.
He was given a caution.
But Cr Adams continued to claim he did nothing wrong and he was considering an appeal “on principle”.
He said he believed Ms Alty was entitled to have her say like every other ratepayer.
“Why the hell does it matter?” he told The Examiner.
“If there’s a financial situation to be gained, then it’s a different matter. But this is to do with a policy position with council.
“It’s an issue of whether my wife has the right to say something about a matter before council.
“How does her submission affect me?”
The panel of three found Cr Adams “had an interest in maintaining domestic harmony” and “it could be perceived that supporting his partner’s objection would achieve that end”.
“The panel concludes that because his personal partner had made a representation against the relevant application, Cr Adams had at least a perceived conflict of interest in considering the application,” the findings read.
The panel rejected claims Cr Adams was prejudiced, biased, influenced or dishonest.
He is the council’s representative on the Longford Committee, which discussed shipping container policy prior to the council vote and found the structures should only be used temporarily.
Cr Adams said people were using shipping containers “to replace planning laws” and to avoid applying for a permit.