Councillors

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)

Link to find Councillors and about Council Structure.

Click on the link below to find the Code of Conduct for Councillors.

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.

Guidance on the Code of Conduct for Councillors 

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.

Ends

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.

Letter to Saving Necarne from Chairperson Mary Garrity. 1st Nov. 2016

Reply to Council Chairperson Mary Garrity 8th Nov 2016 – From Saving Necarne

Letter from Council’s Solicitor 17th Nov 2016 to Saving Necarne

Letter from Council Chief Executive 6th January 2017

Letter from Council Chairperson 13th April 2017

Let from Derry City & Strabane District Council dated 22-2-2017.1 (1)

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. impartail-reporter-2

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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

Public Duty

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….

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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…..

Listen to Recording of Council Discussion c. 45mins.20sec to 54mins .30 sec on this

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.

Agenda where the Council considered Necarne’s future – in Secret

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

AGREED:
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:

  1. (ii)  An Update on the Expressions of Interest for the lease of Necarne Estate and recommended that Gardrum Holdings Ltd be invited to attend a future Meeting to present their proposal to Members and respond to Members’ questions;Agenda Necarne in Confidential Matters Jan 3rd 2017

—————————————————————————————————————————–

13th April 2018

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – RESPONSE FROM Historic Environment

Anne Hayes | Central Administration & Projects |
Historic Environment Division | Department for Communities
Level 6, Causeway Exchange, 1 – 7 Bedford Street, Town Parks, BELFAST, BT2 7EG
Contact: * anne.hayes@communities-ni.gov.uk | ( Tel: (028) 9082 3255 | ( DD: 39255

Annex 1 DFC 2018 0096 Little (4)

Concerns were expressed by Historic Environment that the proposal meant that the Castle was to be mothballed when it should have been the driver for any development.

The developers responded that the castle was an economic liability and was not included in the lease from the castle.


 

July 11th 2018 – the middle of the annual holiday period for most of the community.

Update on Necarne

July 11th Council – 180711-PaperJ-Update on Necarne Report (9)

Minutes of Meeting showing Proposal to proceed.

July 2018 Council proposal to proceed 180711-P&R Minutes (1)

In above – Councillor Diana Armstrong proposed, (seconded by Councillor Feely)  that the Council should proceed to lease subject to lease terms and community engagement.

180711-PaperJ-App1-Necarne Development Strategy Proposal (1) 

In above it shows development plans – however, it merely talks about working with the Council to stablise the castle and that the developer will become the promoter of the castle.  Necarne is the castle and the castle is Necarne. The Council have abandoned their responsibilities to restore the castle and protect the heritage despite previous promises made locally to put in steel supports to prevent it falling, they have allowed trees and ivy to overcome the inside of the castle. The Council wrote Expression of Interest terms that  allowed any developer that bid for Necarne to opt out of taking the castle. The same terms were designed to attract a private investor they were written and scored to control the outcome – the highest rent, most secure financial package, highest deposit etc – simultaneously ruled out and community bid. Private investors are legally charged and obligated to pursue creation of private profit.  Supporting a community development bid would be the only way to save the castle  – as the community care about their heritage and community needs – not profit.  This is why profit is not recommended as a criteria when disposing of heritage according to Gov. Guidance. The private developers have described the castle as an economic liability – (above FOI from dept of heritage), which of course it is – to them –  because the all  grants and funding potential – require social enterprise / not for profit status and they cant avail of funding sources such as crowd funding, and community shares etc for restoring the castle, as their aim out of any development is private profit.  However, a community bid, under Community Asset Transfer ( and see the main page tab)  could harness all the love and care that exists for the castle and via an open process develop appropriate governance with accountability that would ensure a suitable use for the castle was established. Together such a group could then move to step by step restore the castle, stabilising it, roofing it and slowly restoring it.  However the castle needs the estate and the estate needs the castle they can and should depend on each other for their sustainability, They are both listed precious heritage with a rich history and beautiful environment needed and deserved to those most in need in our regional community. At this point, we see a proposal for a lease that will abandon the castle and try to promote it as a small island surrounded by a privatised estate. We cannot see how that can lead to a. a sustainable use for the castle, b. a sustainable future for the castle. The Council have set up the estate for financial exploitation and allowed the private developer to pick the most profitable part of the estate to generate private profit – reaping public subsidies from the land etc, and abandon the most precious most in need part – the castle itself.

180711-PaperJ-App2 (1) Gardrum Proposals – Community Plan

Above is document released on July 11th by the Council, we are unsure who wrote it, but it was put before the Council as the considered moving to agree in principle to move to lease to the developer. Words fail us under so many of the headings, but like in community empowerment, and protection of build heritage see creative writing to disguise the tragic realities of abandoning both.  Community health and wellbeing provision must be provided and managed appropriately, with appropriate governance and accountability. Machinery and property dealers seeking to make a private profit – cannot provide appropriate governance or manage appropriately for health and wellbeing needs.

Experts tell us that the castle will fall if its restoration,  does not start ASAP – it needs stablising and a roof and a plan to restore it ASAP. Under this proposal the castle will most certainly fall, it won’t be enough to ‘promote’ it, it is the jewel in the crown of this region and community, and it will be lost. Tourists will then ask what happened to this beautiful castle ? This site will tell the story of how it was lost… or saved.

Council advert for promotion of private bidder

The Council organised a Community Convention on the same night, at the same time, in the same village, Community_Convention held by Council on the Same Date and Time and Village as Community ‘Engagement’ on Necarne

It brought reps of the big funders to Irvinestown – Big Lottery, Ulster Community Investment Trust, and many more organisations relevant to the appropriate community development of the public asset that is Necarne.  It meant people had to choose between two events which were both very important to them and kept many from attending the meeting re Necarne.

Council Agenda for14th of Nov 18 – Saying Community Petition ‘Unclear’.

Above is the Council agenda of Nov 14th Meeting of policy and resources committee.

It reports on the Council’s Public Engagement meeting for its proposals for Necarne on the 8th of November.

COUNCIL DISMISS 1000 + PETITION AS ‘UNCLEAR’
COUNCIL FAIL TO REPORT ON ALL THE OBJECTIONS AND CONCERNS RAISED AT public engagement meeting.
A council report says community in favour – blatantly ignoring and failing to mention the majority of people who spoke with objections and concerns.

A summary which we strongly query the accuracy of, is being made to councillors in Paper J of the Agenda for the Policy and Resources Committee meeting on Wed 13th November 2018.

How low will our Councillors go? Will they accept the report which gives a summary of their Public Engagement on their plan to dispose of Necarne? Councillors from the main parties were present and witnessed the truth and reality at the meeting. Will they go along with the version presented or correct it at this committee meeting or at the next full Council meeting in Enniskillen on Nov 19th 2018.

This was clearly a Sham ‘engagement’ and very far from an appropriate public consultation. A consultation the Council solicitors assured us of last year, on a huge and valuable public asset of regional importance for health, heritage, sport and tourism – for which restoration of the castle and safeguarding of community needs is vital.

The purpose of the Sham Consultation was clearly for the Council to get the result they wanted – just like they used the criteria and scoring to design an outcome suited to Euro Auctions.

Proposals are about handing over vital resources owned by the community to wealthy business interest at an extremely low rent of only £1666 per month for 200 plus acres and large buildings and houses all to generate profit for Mr and Mrs Keys of Euro Auctions.

A number of people raised serious concerns but this was not reported back to councillors. There was no mention of the 10 people who raised concerns about openness, transparency and allowing an appropriate consultation where people can see the terms of the deal writing in advance of any consultation and be consulted on that. People felt everything was very vague. Several raised concerns about the castle and the need for it to be preserved and all the millions the Council took out of Necarne and the need for it to come back and several asked about needs for equestrian users to be protected. Others expressed concerns about the impact to people living in Castle Street from the 80 houses and caravan park proposed for the listed historic estate – equivalent to putting a housing development in Castle Coole or Florencecourt. There is no protection for the historic estate.

There was no clarity about what or who was going to be protected in the future – making it impossible to have an appropriate public consultation. There was no formal vote taken on the proposals, only two people spoke in favour, it was more than presumptuous to say the community was in favour.

Held as part of an ICP meeting lasting only one hour, the Council officials filibustered the first half hour, then we had 15 mins of a wish list by EuroAuctions and their horrendous plans to put roads and 80 houses in a historic estate and between them both avoid restoration of the castle.- exploitation of heritage with no responsibility for it and no written assurances for the public on any community or heritage protections.  The report describes a’ lengthy question and answer session’  but people were only allowed one brief question and the Chair allowed no come back on what the council officials came back with, rather invited council linked people to speak in favour allowing them all the time they wanted.  There was a clear refusal by the CEO to show people in writing what was going to be in the lease re community and castle – only the lease terms will show the truth of the plans. Only the lease terms hold any accountability for the public for the use by Euro Auctions of millions of public investment.  Otherwise, anything like a machinery auction site could happen and there is nothing anyone can do. People cant consider and feedback on what they don’t know about.  We don’t think anyone should support a plan for Necarne without seeing anything in writing that is going to happen and what Euro Auctions must do  – eg the lease. We do not recommend taking the word of a property developer whose only interested in private profit – and he will make that immediately when his rent is so low.
The Council do not have the right to dispose of this public asset and millions of public investment in this manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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