Row over council advice on Portchester Community Centre vote

COUNCILLOR Roger Price
COUNCILLOR Roger Price
Driftwood Festival organiser Paul Cobb  Picture: Malcolm Wells (142242-6774C)

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A COUNCILLOR has criticised his own officers for giving advice that led him to withdraw from a crucial vote on a new £2m community centre.

Portchester East councillor Roger Price reluctantly removed himself from his usual seat on Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee for the vote on a new Portchester Community Centre.

He was advised by the council’s legal team that because he also sits on the community centre’s task and finish panel, which oversees the project, he should register a prejudicial interest – forcing him to withdraw from voting on the matter.

But Cllr Price disputes the advice, saying that you would need to stand to gain financially from the matter to have a prejudicial interest, which he would not.

He said: ‘I wanted to stay in that meeting, I wanted to put my views across. My only interest was getting the best community centre possible that’s fit for purpose.’

However, council spokeswoman, Sue Mills said: ‘The concerns are the issue of bias and pre-determination that could result in a challenge on the grounds of natural justice.

‘The members that sit on both the task and finish panel and the planning committee have an interest in this matter.’

The vote was passed unanimously by the remaining six councillors.