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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:03 pm 
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Taxi-driving councillors given special permission to vote on budget proposals

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/st ... al-5021926

Standards committee members granted the dispensation to the Conservatives in order to preserve the current political balance

Three councillors will be allowed to vote on controversial budget proposals – despite having a 'pecuniary interest' which would normally bar them from doing so.

The three Conservative members on Stoke-on-Trent City Council – Asman Ali, Faisal Hussain and Sadaqat Maqsoom – have been granted 'dispensation' to vote on next week's budget by the authority's standards committee.

All three are involved in the taxi trade, and the budget includes a proposal to increase the council's charges for taxi MOTs.

Councillors are usually prevented from voting on matters which could have a direct financial impact on them, unless a dispensation is granted.

Barring the trio from taking part in the budget vote would shift the political balance on the council – effectively making it much more difficult for the ruling Conservative group to get their proposals approved.

Monitoring officer James Doble told the standards committee that maintaining the political balance was a valid reason to grant the three councillors their requested dispensation. He said: "As part of the code of conduct there is a requirement, which is replicated in statute, for members to declare disclosable pecuniary interests.

"That means effectively that a member with a DPI cannot be present in a meeting and cannot take part in a debate on any matter where they have a DPI.

"Three dispensation requests have been received and they are from three councillors who are involved in the taxi business. In the budget proposals this year there is a budget line on increasing the MOT fees for taxis. A dispensation would allow them to vote on that issue.

"In this particular situation it's my view that the criteria set out have been met by this request. That is that without this dispensation the representation of different political groups would be so upset as to alter the likely outcome of any vote.

"Secondly, it's also a council duty to set a budget, and therefore setting a budget is in the interests of the area.

"While this is only one small line in the budget, it would render them unable to take part in the whole budget debate, which would go against the legislation and the guidance that's been issued around upsetting that political balance. The disclosure of interest regulations were not designed to upset that balance."

The full council will meet next Thursday to vote on the budget for 2021/22, which include a 4.99 per cent tax hike and £14.4 million of savings, including controversial cuts to public toilets and new parking charges.

The council's Conservative group has 19 members, with two independent councillors voting with the Tories – which means they have just enough support to outvote the opposition Labour and City Independent groups.

But losing three Conservative votes would wipe out this narrow majority, potentially allowing the budget to be blocked – as happened last year, which forced council leaders to change their proposals.

Speaking before the meeting, Conservative council leader Abi Brown insisted there was nothing controversial about granting the dispensations.

She said: "Whenever a new council is elected we grant dispensations to councillors who live in council properties to vote on things like rent changes. These dispensations aren't really any different to that. This is nothing unusual."


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:04 pm 
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One for Grandad. Was going to say lots, but think I'll keep my trap shut :-#


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 6:50 pm 
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Location: Stamford Britains prettiest town till SKDC ruined it
StuartW wrote:
One for Grandad. Was going to say lots, but think I'll keep my trap shut :-#



aw go on you know you want to!

my personal opinion is that it sets a dangerous precedent

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:41 pm 
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It is pointed out to us that the setting of the Council budget and the associated Council tax is exempt from the usual pecuniary interest issue because it could be argued that any Councillor who owned their own home or rented a property and thus paid Council tax would be excluded from the budget setting meeting and thus no meeting could take place.

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