You can find a link to the Names, telephone numbers and email addresses for Councillors from this link. The Expression of Interest process is Non-Binding – they do not have to advance any expressed interest on to tender process and they are not liable for any costs incurred. This was made clear to all those submitting Expressions of Interest – both in the initial advertisement (pictured below) and the terms and conditions sent to all (in Important Documents tab of our website)
Click on the link below to find the Code of Conduct for Councillors.
The clear brief that it is the duty of Councillors to listen to and represent those who elected them is further reiterated in the Guidance for Councillors linked below.
We checked this with the NI Ombudsmans Local Government Office, who directed us to to P.44 and P45 of the guidance on the code of conduct for Councillors – (linked above ) in particular
On page 44
4.14.2 As a general rule, it is an essential element of the democratic process that any individual should be allowed to lobby a council or a councillor. You may be lobbied by a wide range of people including individuals, organisations, businesses and developers. If you are lobbied on any matter in which you will have a role in the council’s decision making on that matter, you must make it clear that you are not in a position to lend support for or against any the decision. You must also direct any such representations to the appropriate department of your council.
On page 45
4.14.3 As a councillor, you will also participate in decision making in your Council.
Your impartiality in the decision making process is key to achieving effective local government. You may listen to the particular views and representations of a lobbyist. However, when making a decision, you must take account of the views of all parties and any advice of guidance offered to you by council officials. Further, when you are involved in the decision making process, you must not express support for or opposition to a particular outcome in advance of the decision being made.
This is important as we keep reiterating to Councillors – we know they cannot be partisan but we also know they CAN and SHOULD LISTEN! They cannot make balanced democratic decisions and represent the electorate, unless they listen to the community they are elected and funded to represent. This is quite a serious situation which needs to be addressed.
Letters to and From the Council.
It is very clear from the code of conduct for councillors that the councillors do not have a conflict of interest that would prevent them from listening to those they are duty bound to represent. It is clear it is essential that they listen – they can’t express a view – but they can listen – which is all we are asking them to do. The Council are refusing to listen before the make a decision. They also refuse to answer questions to clarify the legal basis for their claims of conflict of interest, their refusal to have dialogue or answer questions, and refuse to provide independent legal advice to justify their advice to councillors.
In 2014 NI Executive reformed local government with a mandatory code of conduct.
The 2014 Act imposes a requirement for councillors to observe the code and establishes mechanisms for the investigation and adjudication of written complaints that a councillor has failed, or may have failed to comply with the code.
Extracts from the Code of Conduct.
1.5 The code details the principles and rules of conduct which you are required to observe.
2.6 As a Councillor, it is your responsibility to make sure you are familiar with the provisions of the code and that you comply with those provisions.
2.10 The 2014 Act gives the Northern Ireland Ombudsman responsibility for the operation of the enforcing mechanisms of the code….. including investigation of and adjudication on alleged failure to comply with the code.
2.12 He an decided no action or (a) censure….. (b) suspend…… or (c) disqualify ……
3.3 Principles of Conduct
Duty to act in the interests of the community as a whole.
You have a special duty to your constituents and are responsible to the electorate who are the final arbiter of your conduct as a public representative.
You should act in the public interests at all times and you should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest.
You should not place yourself under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations, which might reasonably be thought by others to influence you in the performance of your duties as a councillor
You are accountable to the public for your decisions and actions.
4.10 You must assist your council to act, as far as possible, in the interests of the whole community. Although individuals are entitled to pursue their own personal concerns about local issues, you must not represent their views over the wider public interest.
Section 5 Defines Interests, personal or financial which may give rise to a conflict of interest – none of which apply to our group or councillors relationship to our group.
7. Rules relating to Lobbying and Access to Councillors
7.1 In order for a council to fulfil its commitment to being open, accessible, and responsive to the needs of the public, it should encourage appropriate participation by organisations and individuals in the decision making process.
7.3 As a general rule, it is an essential element of the democratic system that any individual should be able to lobby the council as a councillor.
9 In relation to planning matters
9.6 It is entirely appropriate for councillors including those who will have a decision making responsibilities to make known to the planning officers what representations from constituents and prospective developers they have received on a planning application, to attend public meetings / events and to assist constituents in making their views know to the relevant planning officer.
9.14 you must not act on behalf of, or as an agent for, an applicant….
Above, the advertisement for the Expression of Interest advertised in July. July is a peak time for holidays in Northern Ireland. You can view the Expression of Interest terms and criteria and the Questions and Answers given by Council during the tender process, in the Important Documents tab of this website. The terms reflect the advertisement wording that the Council does not bind itself to accept any submission or any expenses incurred therein, therefore there can be no threat from applicants.
Here in the recording below you can hear how the Councillors were heavily dissuaded from listening to the community and experts speaking of concerns re Necarne, as it would be a conflict of interest to listen to community…..
After advertising Necarne in the July Holidays the decision and ratification takes place over the Christmas New Year Holidays. On December 14th it comes before the Policy and resources committee in Omagh. It is not listed on the agenda but brought up under Confidential Matters. Here is the agenda the procurement and tenders part of the committee meeting.
Here is the agenda where the Council plan to ratify their decision to bring Gardrum Holdings into a meeting to have Gardrum Holdings present to the Council to give their “preferred bidder” further consideration. A whistleblower informed us that the bid was low scoring in the low 60s, the rent was less than subsidies at 20k per year, and that Mr Keys of Gardrum Holdings / Euro Auctions does not want the Castle. If the Council proceed to privatise the estate on this basis then most certainly the castle will eventually fall.
On January 3rd 2017 The Council Agenda shows two DUP Councillors moving Mr Key’s / Gardrum Holdings / Euro Auctions preferred bid into Confidential matters. Mr Keys is listed as one of two people with significant control in Manderwood Ltd the other being David Mahon – DUP Councillor Mahon’s father.
PART TWO – CONFIDENTIAL MATTERS AND MATTERS EXEMPT FROM PUBLICATION
On the proposal of Councillor Robinson, seconded by Councillor Thompson, that the following matters be considered “In Committee”, as the reports contained information which was exempt from publication under the Local Government (Northern Ireland) Act 2014.
The Chief Executive reported that during Confidential Business the Committee considered:
- (ii) An Update on the Expressions of Interest for the lease of Necarne Estate andrecommended that Gardrum Holdings Ltd be invited to attend a future Meetingto present their proposal to Members and respond to Members’ questions;