Warminster row over councillor's vote on homes bid
6:00pm Friday 11th July 2014 in By Richard McAllister
Wiltshire councillor Magnus Macdonald has dismissed claims that, as a director of Selwood Housing, he had a conflict of interest in voting for a controversial housing development near Boreham Mill, Warminster.
Selwood is a prospective social housing partner in proposals by developer HAB – Happiness, Architecture, Beauty – Housing and HPH Ltd, to build 35 homes, 10 of them for social housing.
The plan was approved by the Western Area Plann-ing Committee on June 11, by six votes to five. Without Cllr Macdonald’s vote it may not have got through, as chairman Cllr Christopher Newbury – with a casting vote in a tie – was against it.
Warminster Town Council member Paul Macdonald and Mike Perry, the chairman of Bishopstrow Parish Meeting, both opponents of the scheme, made formal complaints to the council.
Cllr Magnus Macdonald, who represents Winsley and Westwood, declared he was a director, but Selwood’s late written submission stated there were no formal agreements with the developer. The councillor said he would vote on that basis.
However, documents from the developer acknowledged it was in discussions with Selwood as a possible partner.
Warminster Cllr Paul Macdonald said: “I came away outraged and incensed.”
Magnus Macdonald said: “When there is a social housing element in developments, they talk to social housing associations.
“I did not have any financial, personal interest.”
He has been a director of Selwood since last August, but it was not on his register of interests until this month.
He said: “I made a mistake that I did not fill in my written declaration of interest properly. That has now been pointed out to me.”
In the same meeting he declared an interest and withdrew from debate on a project in Westwood, because of Selwood involvement.
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