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Councillor faces standards board

PUBLISHED: 08:10 16 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:25 14 July 2010

A town councillor has been reported to the Standards Board of England for allegedly failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest when a controversial enhancement scheme was discussed.

A town councillor has been reported to the Standards Board of England for allegedly failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest when a controversial enhancement scheme was discussed.

Businessman Robin Chan polled the second highest number of votes at the Hingham Town Council elections last May.

His grocery shop, Harrods, is near a grassed area in the centre of Hingham called The Fairland which was to have been the subject of an £80,000 improvement scheme to alter the layout, and install parking bays to prevent erosion of the greens.

But at their meeting on June 5, 2007, the newly-elected council decided not to go ahead with the scheme and it has now been shelved by Norfolk County Council.

In 2001, before becoming a councillor, Mr Chan expressed his views on The Fairland in a community magazine, stating that Harrods was “likely to be noticeably affected” by the proposed alterations. He is also a member of Hingham Society which led opposition to the scheme.

And when the proposed cancellation was debated on June 5, he was advised by the town clerk and fellow councillor Diana Hall that he should declare an interest, and not take part in the proceedings.

His failure to do so, and decision to vote on the issue, led Mrs Hall to make an official complaint which will be the subject of a standards boards hearing on February 20, at South Norfolk Council's offices in Long Stratton.

The authority's standards committee will consider a report submitted by Frank Skinner, head of central service at Yarmouth Borough Council, who was appointed to investigate the complaint.

It is his opinion that Mr Chan did breach Hingham Town Council's code of conduct by failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in the Fairland, and remaining at the meeting.

However, Mr Chan denies having a special interest that would bar him from voting.

He told the Mercury: “I don't believe I have got any more of a personal interest than several others on the council. There are six other town councillors who have businesses near The Fairland or adjacent to it.”

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