Promenader wins points of principle on council’s marina voting procedures

LARNE Promenade Action Group member Ted Geary has taken the local council to task over procedures.

The lobbyist scored a point of principle over the Smiley Building administration when he pointed out, rightly, that a development committee motion supporting Larne Marina Consortium’s latest proposal for Sandy Bay should not have been allowed to proceed while he was still in the public gallery, as no one had taken steps to ascertain whether he was in fact an LMC supporter, who should have left along with the team that pitched a presentation to the council. Had he been in the LMC camp, his presence might have been deemed to bring “undue influence” on elected members as they voted.

Mr Geary was at last week’s monthly meeting, having written to chief executive Geraldine McGahey that failure to establish his credentials was a breach of the Nolan Principles and Good Governance Guidance for Councillors. Mrs McGahey took responsibility for allowing Mr Geary to remain in the chamber unchallenged. “I used my knowledge that that person was not a supporter and I should not have done that,” she said.

“If you feel that the decision was unduly influenced, then you should withdraw the motion,” the chief executive advised councillors.

In the event, members decided it would be sufficient for each councillor to declare individually that his her vote had not been influenced by Mr Geary’s presence.

It was also agreed that, arising from a further point raised by the complainant, the resolution should be amended. Mr Geary had pointed out that it referred to the LMC proposal as being a planning application and he had received information from Planning Service that such was not the case.

Having removed the offending words from the resolution, the council might have thought its dealings with Mr Geary were complete, but he has since informed the Larne Times that he has lodged a further complaint, arguing that the resolution was altered after the formal adoption of the committee decision.

The promenade group’s request for a copy of the committee’s recording of the marina presentation and decision-making was met with an invitation to attend the council offices to hear the relevant part of the recording, in the presence of a council officer. Mrs McGahey said it was not possible to provide a copy because the meeting had included legal and confidential items and the material could not be edited.