Independents recommended for Fenland District Council’s conduct committee

Fenland District Council

Fenland District Council - Credit: Archant

TWO women have been recommended for the posts of Independent Persons on Fenland District Council’s Conduct Committee.

They are Anne Hay, from Chatteris, and Claire Hawden-Beal, from March.

They have been chosen from a shortlist of five candidates interviewed by a three-man panel of members made up of Councillor Fred Yeulett, the committee’s chairman, and Councillors Will Sutton and Rob Skoulding. Twenty people applied for the posts.

Their names will now go forward to the full council meeting on January 24 for ratification.

Anne Hay is the panel’s recommendation for the post of Lead Independent Person. She is a recently retired financial accountant and was involved with several community groups around Chatteris.

Claire Hawden-Beal has been recommended as the Deputy Independent Person. She is a qualified solicitor who was a magistrates’ legal advisor for more than 20 years and a tribunal judge.

Assuming that their appointments are ratified, they will start training for their posts and familiarising themselves with the current caseload later this month.

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The role of the Independent Persons is to provide impartial assistance to the work of the committee in ensuring high standards of conduct by councillors. They will be consulted on key decisions made by the committee and play a part in supporting councillors who are the subject of complaints.

The Lead Independent Person will receive an annual allowance of £1,000 and the Deputy will get £500.

Last month, it was revealed that the council failed to advertise for the member to join its committee.

At the conduct committee’s first meeting on July 27, it instructed officers to appoint two independent members.

However, the council failed to advertise the vacancies until November – with a closing date of November 30. No-one applied.

The failure resulted in a delay in investigating a string of complaints against town and district councillors.

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