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Slough councillors rebut concerns over conflicts of interest

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Two councillors answered public questions on potential clashes and conflicts of interest at the meeting of the full council on Tuesday.

Kevin Barry (a Labour candidate) asked Councillor Strutton, Conservative Group Leader, whether he believed that councillors elected to Slough Borough Council should only serve the people of Slough.

This relates to his deputy, Cllr Paul Kelly (Haymill and Lynch Hill) also sitting on Buckinghamshire County Council.

Mr Barry raised concerns about Cllr Kelly attending a Buckinghamshire County Council meeting on April 21, thus missing the Slough council Neighbourhood and Community Services committee, which discusses serious crime and antisocial behaviour.

“Having Paul as a member of my team is very useful because South Bucks borders Slough, there are many issues that correlate and cross boundaries,” said Cllr Strutton.

“Looking at the average attendance rate of my councillors compared to many of the members opposite, you’ll find we do rather well.”

He added that it was quite common for councillors to be engaged in other political duties, such as parish councils, or becoming MPs while maintaining positions on local councils.

Resident Gordon Moffatt then asked leader of Slough council Cllr James Swindlehurst about his connection to the Langley War Memorial Field charity, for which Cllr Swindlehurst is a trustee.

Mr Moffatt raised concerns about the lack of transparency in undertaking the role, as agendas and minutes of meetings have not been made available to the public.

Cllr Swindlehurst said that it was agreed unanimously across parties that the trustee committee be distinct from council business.

“The fact that I’m an active councillor does not give the public the automatic right to any meetings I or other councillors attend, or to see the minutes,” he said.

“When I am at trustee committee meetings, I’m bound by the terms of reference of that committee, which include confidentiality.”

However, he agreed that after three years, it was ‘a good time’ to look at whether any of these documents should be made public going forward.

Also in this meeting, councillors put forward a motion for anti-bullying measures - but this was amended to a version that opposition councillors found 'disappointing'.

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