Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Thursday, June 03, 2010

New twist in Sheringham supermarket saga

A complaint against a councillor which is holding up the latest stage of the Sheringham supermarket saga was submitted by the authority's chief executive, it has been revealed. North Norfolk District Council's top officer Philip Burton handed in a 27-page confidential document - seen by the EDP - outlining concerns about the conduct of Candy Sheridan, who represents Stalham. The authority last night said its chief executive's role was a matter of convention and did not necessarily reflect his personal concerns. The complaint, dated March 31, relates to Ms Sheridan's behaviour during a meeting on March 4 to decide who should be given permission to develop a supermarket in Sheringham. A committee voted against the recommendations of officers to give the go-ahead to the Greenhouse Community Project, which would be run by Waitrose, and rejected the latest application by Tesco. The decision is set to be discussed again by the planning committee - because of fears it would not stand up to a legal challenge - but that has been put on hold while a number of complaints against councillors, including Ms Sheridan, are investigated. Last night, district council spokesman Nick Manthorpe explained the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 imposed an “absolute duty” on the authority's monitoring officer to ensure serious allegations against any councillor were properly investigated. He added: “By convention in these circumstances the actual complaint to the standards committee is made by the chief executive.” Mr Manthorpe said the council would be breaking the law if it was to reveal any of the details of four complaints made against three councillors unless and until they came before a standards committee panel hearing. Mr Burton's code of conduct complaint form was passed to the EDP by Eroica Mildmay, chairman of Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment (Scamrod). She has now received a letter from the district council telling her the authority is seeking legal advice over how her organisation came to have the confidential documents. It follows a letter sent to the authority by Ms Mildmay and Reg Grimes, chairman of the Sheringham and District Preservation Society, giving their views on the complaint. Last night Scamrod's chairman called the letter a “threat” and branded it “ridiculous”. She added: “The important thing for me is that they have not dealt with any of my issues. They have decided to turn around and shoot the messenger and try to intimidate me.” Ms Mildmay refused to reveal who had leaked the confidential complaint document. Mr Manthorpe said: “The documents in question are restricted to a small number of relevant people, who are all aware that they are to be kept confidential, by law. We cannot speculate or comment further without potentially prejudicing any investigation.” Ms Sheridan announced she was the subject of an ongoing investigation in April when she had to leave a planning meeting while the supermarket saga was discussed.