Threat of probe for former Brentwood mayor

September 29, 2008 3:20 PM
By Rhiannon Evans in Brentwood Gazette

A council committee has yet to decide whether ex-mayor Frank Kenny will face a standards investigation, despite his resignation a fortnight ago.

Kenny stepped down as councillor just days before he was due to face an inquiry into his conduct during a planning meeting at which he was chairman.

Complaints to the Standards Board for England alleged he had acted inappropriately during a debate into whether two demountable classrooms should be allowed to remain on Green Belt land at a private school, owned by his friend and council leader Brandon Lewis.

The Gazette previously revealed how Woodlands School in Hutton had flouted planning laws by building the classrooms without permission - causing uproar within the community and council chamber.

The school was forced to apply for retrospective planning permission, but Cllr Kenny was accused of stifling the debate and rushing through the application at the meeting in July.

Mr Kenny strongly denies the investigation had anything to do with his decision to step down.

Lib Dem councillor Barry Aspinell raised the question as to whether the investigation was voided by Mr Kenny's resignation at a policy board meeting at the council last Wednesday.

But the borough's solicitor, Brian Keane, revealed the authority's own standards board sub-committee would make a decision on what to do next in the near future.

However, Lib Dem councillor David Kendall says Mr Kenny's resignation should not make any difference.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "Whilst I respect and understand the reasons Frank Kenny has given for resigning from the borough council, I still believe that in the interests of openness and accountability the standards board investigation he was due to take part in should go ahead.

"A number of legitimate issues have been raised by both the Liberal Democrat group and the Hutton Preservation Society regarding the way the Woodlands School planning application was handled, and these still need to be properly addressed."