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Councillor confusion over planning application for car park

James Hockaday

Confusion arose over potential conflicts of interest at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) planning committee meeting on Wednesday, causing one councillor to walk out.

Councillors were discussing a planning application for the enlargement of the car park by the former Absolutely Ten Pin bowling centre in Slough’s Salt Hill Park and widening of the access road.

Concerns were raised at a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 25, in which some councillors were surprised to discover that they were all trustees of the James Elliman Trust.

Named after James Elliman, who donated the land of Salt Hill Park in 1906 to the people of Slough, the James Elliman Trust makes grants to improve the social welfare and leisure of Slough.

Councillors have questioned potential conflicts of interests regarding decision making about the park as trustees.

However, a Slough Borough Council spokeswoman has since said that while individual councillors are trustees of the James Elliman Trust, full council, as a corporate body, is a trustee of Salt Hill Playing Fields, which is responsible for Salt Hill Park.

She said that some newer councillors may never have realised they were trustees until a decision on the park had to be made.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Ted Plenty said he was 'not happy to go on' with the agenda item because he was not clear on the legality before walking out.

He returned for the meeting's other agenda items.

Non-voting member and Conservative Group leader Cllr Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) expressed concerns over last week's council meeting, saying ‘I don't believe that meeting was carried out lawfully’.

He said some councillors claimed planning permission had already been approved for the widening of the access road when it had not.

Councillors at Wednesday's meeting approved plans, placing conditions of additional CCTV in the car park.

The meeting took place at St Martins Place in Bath Road.

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