Directors properly banned from voting
Sir, Your headline (“Questions over move to block council company director votes”, Herald, 24th February) is misleading. This was an attempt to allow councillors who are also directors of Heart of Cumbria Ltd to vote when they have already been quite properly banned from doing so.
And Mr Hooper is, at best, mistaken. Procedurally, he of all people should know that nobody has the right to address the council (or one of its committees) of their own volition from the public gallery: and substantively his concern about a possible impact on the voting balance of the council should have been identified in a cautionary note in a proper report to the full council at the time that the company was set up and its directors appointed.
Mr Connell’s point about perceived bias was quite properly taken. In my previous letter to you, published last August, I referred to the need at that point for a proper report, and went on to say “in all the recent debate I cannot trace any reference to such a report. Nor can I find any evidence that the council has been made formally aware of the inescapability of a real or perceived conflict of interest between the roles of a councillor (who must act in the best interests of the electors as he understands them) and of a director of a company (who must act in the best interests of the company itself as he understands them). There are well-established solutions to this apparent conundrum, but they do not lie in senior council members serving as directors of the company”.
The argument ascribed to Mr Neal that the matter turns on the issue of whether or not the directorships should be classed as “disclosable pecuniary interests” is both false (because such an interest does not depend on the existence or otherwise of a currently identifiable financial benefit), and irrelevant (because the fundamental issue is the existence or perception of an inescapable conflict of interest). Yours etc,
The Hollies, Great Asby.