Friday, 13 July 2012

Update From SCDC Regarding Register of Members Interest

The following email was sent to all Parishes in relation to the reporting requirements for the new Register of Members interests. To say this has caused a large amount of disquiet is a massive understatement - there have been a number of Parish Council resignations in relation to these changes (one in Bar Hill). People are incredibly uneasy about the amount of information about what many consider to be their "private affairs" (or their partners private affairs) that will be published on the web.

Here's the text from the email;

To all parish councillors 
Further to my previous briefing note on Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and my request for all parish councillors to complete the new Register of Interests forms for parish councillors – I understand that many of you have concerns about what type of interests you need to include on your register, either your own or those which relate to your spouse or civil partner’s interests.
The crucial thing to consider is whether any interest has any likely or possible connection with the business of the parish council – i.e.  if it is a body/group or organisation that operates within the parish area or which may apply for planning permission, a grant, a licence etc. from your parish council where your connection with that group or body may have an influence on how you make a decision as a parish councillor.  If this is not the case then it is my view that you do not need to include this on your register of interests.  If something does arise on a parish agenda that you have not predicted on your register of interest then you can always make a declaration at that meeting or amend your register to reflect this as and when it occurs. 
In relation to your spouse or partner’s interests, if you are not aware of them you do not need to declare them. I re-iterate my previous advice that you do not need to refer to them by name on your register. 
For those of you who have contacted the Legal team for advice on the register of interests please do bear with us as we endeavour to respond to each enquiry as soon as possible. You will appreciate that with so many parishes in the district there has been a huge amount of queries and we are working our way through them as quickly as possible. 
Kind Regards 
Fiona McMillan
Legal & Democratic Services Manager
Legal Office