At a hearing of the East Cambridgeshire District Council Standards Board on the 29th March 2012 it was alleged that Councillor Humphries, the Chairman, acted illegally and inappropriately. The allegation relates to a meeting of Cheveley Parish Council, which took place on 13 September 2011.
It is alleged by Brigadier Burton OBE that Councillor Humphries, the Chairman, acted illegally and inappropriately. Under the Parish Council’s Standing Orders, four Councillors must be present at a meeting of the Parish and each of the two wards, North and South, must be represented. Brigadier Burton OBE considered that as there was no representative from the North Ward at that meeting, it was inquorate. Brigadier Burton OBE alleged that Councillor Humphries announced that he had changed Wards and was representing the North Ward. The meeting then proceeded, following an alleged comment by Councillor Humphries, that he had received advice from the District Council.
Parish Councillor Roderick Humphries, was afforded the opportunity by the Sub-Committee to participate in the proceedings in accordance with the Hearing Procedure, but he stated that he did not want to take part and only would be in attendance as an observer, as he did not consider that the proceedings complied with the law and would not give legitimacy to spurious proceedings. Cllr Humphries is a board member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Association of Local Councils CAPALC (source: CAPALC website)
Section 16(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that: ‘Where a parish is divided into parish wards, there shall be separate elections of parish councillors for each ward’. Therefore, Cllr Humphries is not legally able to unilaterally change wards.
The Sub-Committee found that Councillor Humphries was in breach of Section 5 of the Code of Conduct ‘You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute’.
East Cambridgeshire District Council Standards Board found that...
- Councillor Humphries in his role as Chair declared an inquorate meeting quorate in breach of Cheveley Parish Council Standing Order 25.
- Councillor Humphries declared a change of wards without proper process.
To a reasonable outside observer, this would bring the office of Chair and that of the Parish Council into disrepute.
Cllr Humphries was suspended from his role as Parish Councillor for a period of 4 months and that councillor training should be attended in this period.
Parish Councillor Roderick Humphries has the right to appeal against this decision within 28 days of receipt of the notice of the Standards Hearing Sub-Committee findings.
East Cambridgeshire District Council Standards Board also commented that...
"Despite an enormous amount of effort in preparing this Hearing, and our repeated attempts to engage Cllr Humphries in this statutory process, we can find little if any mitigation."
The Sub-Committee also noted...
"their disappointment at the uncooperative attitude of the Clerk and would like to bring it to the attention of the Parish Council for its consideration. The Sub-Committee also hopes that this brings an end to the unhappy situation in Cheveley, where co-operation has clearly broken down between separate factions. We sincerely hope that the situation in the past that has led to this serious dysfunction can now be laid to rest and the whole Council now acts together for the benefit of the parishioners and to perform its statutory duties."
Source: EAST CAMBRIDGESHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL STANDARDS HEARING SUB-COMMITTEE FULL WRITTEN REGULATION 20 DECISION NOTICE