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Independent review clears council of wrong-doing over house purchase

An independent review has concluded there is no evidence that Craven District Council acted improperly over the purchase of a property by the council's chief executive.

Councillor Richard Foster, Craven District Council leader, said: "Following Paul Shevlin's house purchase, as Leader, I requested information relating to the robustness and application of Council procedures.

"This information has now been collated and reviewed by an external officer, independent of the Council.  The review concludes that the Council has a good governance framework, including model policies and procedures.

"The independent officer has also confirmed that the way the situation has been handled cannot reasonably be said to be sufficient to have brought the Council into disrepute.

"I am satisfied with the information provided by the independent officer. Arrangements are now underway to implement the recommendations outlined within the report."

The review was carried out by Liz Bashforth, an independent and experienced solicitor and monitoring officer. Ms Bashforth said: "I have not seen any evidence to suggest that decisions taken by the Council have not been taken properly in relation to both the Granville Street and Horse Close sites as a result of PS's purchase of a property on the Granville Street site."

She concluded: "In my view, the way the situation has been handled cannot reasonably be said to be sufficient to have brought the Council into disrepute."

The report made three recommendations - that declarations of interest, including potential interests, should be put in writing at an early stage; that processes should be put in place to pro-actively manage any subsequent issues; and that any development control decisions which affect members or certain officers, should be referred to the planning committee or taken under delegated powers and the decision, and the reasons for it, should be recorded and published.