ALLEGATIONS that the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth broke the law by failing to declare a financial interest are being looked into by the police.
Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed that officers have examined city council records as a result of an approach to police about Lib Dem councillor Cheryl Buggy, which she describes as ‘mischief-making.’
The police involvement follows a Guildhall reprimand for the Lord Mayor as a result of former Conservative group leader Cllr Steve Wemyss reporting her to the city council’s standards sub-committee last May after she chaired a committee looking into its use of consultants.
He protested that, as a director of community radio station Express FM, which has done consultancy work for the council, Cllr Buggy should have declared a pecuniary interest and not sat on the committee.
Following an apology by the Lord Mayor the decision was taken to send her a letter of censure but not refer the complaint to be investigated.
But now the matter has been raised with the police by members of the public.
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: ‘Police can confirm they are aware of allegations made by members of the public about the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.
‘Portsmouth City Council and the Audit Commission have been supporting enquiries by Hampshire Constabulary, and city council records have been examined by police officers.
‘Police will make a final decision in due course on possible further action after all available information has been assessed.’
Cllr Buggy said: ‘When a complaint like this is made, of course the police have an obligation to make enquiries and I have been happy to help.
‘However, I think it’s a crying shame that valuable police resources have had to be diverted to investigate a complaint of this nature when their time could be better spent on matters of real importance.
‘In the meantime, I will continue to focus on things that really matter, including fulfilling my role as the city’s Lord Mayor and working to make the Positively Portsmouth project a success for the 200 young people who are taking part and the charities that will benefit.’
Cllr Buggy added that she had no idea who had made the complaint to the police or why they had waited so long.
The Local Government Act 1993 requires a councillor to declare a pecuniary interest in a matter before a council meeting in which he or she is involved.
Cllr Buggy, who was first elected to the council in 2008, is a former teacher who became a radio presenter and personal development writer.
She is the co-founder of the Portsmouth-based radio station Express FM.
‘At the very least she needs to offer a full apology’
THE complaint considered last year concerned whether the Lord Mayor should have declared a financial interest during three meetings.
In 2010, Cllr Cheryl Buggy chaired a scrutiny committee which considered the role of consultants within the council and whether they were good value for money.
Cllr Steve Wemyss, formally complained in May, protesting that because Express FM had received £15,600 from the council for consultancy work, the soon-to-be Lord Mayor should have declared a pecuniary interest and taken no further part in the committee.
After receiving an apology from Cllr Buggy the standards assessment sub-committee decided to have her retrained by the city solicitor and all Portsmouth city councillors subsequently received a letter reminding them to declare all interests in full at every meeting.
The Lord Mayor said as far as she was concerned that was the end of the matter and there was no need for any further action.
She said: ‘The standards committee found me guilty of not declaring a couple of meetings, which I apologised for. The fact that somebody has not accepted that months on and has gone to the police has got nothing to do with the standards committee.’
But Cllr Wemyss disagreed that the matter had been fully dealt with at the time.
He said: ‘At the very least Cllr Buggy needs to offer a full apology.
‘The damage has already been done but that is the least we should expect.
‘People have resigned for less.’