UPDATE: Campaigners call for East Devon councillor Graham Brown to resign
CAMPAIGNERS are calling for an East Devon district councillor, who was secretly filmed claiming he could secure planning permission for a fee, to resign.
The East Devon District Council Conservative party group suspended Cllr Graham Brown yesterday Monday, March 11.
The party has also removed him from his post of member champion for business and tourism on the district council.
The move follows coverage of Cllr Brown's professional work as a planning consultant, where reporters from the Daily Telegraph filmed Cllr Brown insinuating that he could influence local planning decisions.
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The council is now assessing whether it should investigate this matter as a possible breach of its Code of Conduct.
Cllr Brown, told the Echo he did not see his planning consultancy business, Greygreen Planning as being in conflict with his role as a councillor.
He is also the chairman of the East Devon Business Forum and was the chairman of the Local Development Framework (LDF) Panel, which was formed to look at the emerging proposals for mass development across East Devon.
Ian McKintosh, chairman of the East Devon Alliance, a recently formed consortium of groups and individuals concerned about the workings of East Devon District Council, said: "The only right and proper thing for Cllr Brown to do is resign.
"Councillors are there to carry out the wishes of the people who elected them and act in the interests of the area they purport to represent.
"The alliance is concerned about the workings of the council and believes there needs to be an investigation into the workings of its councillors and officers.
"The alliance is in favour of development but that which is appropriate, proportionate and environmentally sensitive to the area.
"It's wholly inappropriate that someone elected by council tax payers, is benefiting privately in order to further the interests of those who want to build over good agricultural land."
A spokesperson for the East Devon Green Party, said: "This calls into question what has been going on for all the period of time when he has been influential in the council.
"This exposure of a Tory councillor, who holds a powerful position within the ruling Tory group on the council, raises questions about his relationship with his colleagues on the Tory group."
Sharon Pavey, Green Party member and Honiton town councillor, added: "I am calling for an inquiry into the shocking exposure of a tory councillor making money out of the planning process.
"I want to know whether he has had any influence on his fellow Tories, and, if so, how many planning decisions have been affected.
"These actions are wholly unacceptable. We expect the council to react swiftly and for anyone implicated to get their resignations in today."
East Devon district councillor, Claire Wright, added: "It's nonsense that Cllr Brown's role as a councillor doesn't conflict with his work as a planning consultant after what he's been filmed saying.
"It's completely inappropriate, there should be an investigation into his influence over planning within the council that goes back to his role as chairman of the LDF Panel in 2009 and 2010."