Councillor denies ‘collusion’ allegations

COUNCILLOR Michael Cloake says he is ‘shocked and bemused’ at allegations of collusion by a property developer at the meeting.

W19613H13 WH WORTHING ELECTION 2013 PIC S.G. 03.04.2013 The Count at Worthing Assembly Hall on Friday Michael Cloake Worthing Pier ENGSUS00120130305163513

Paul Meredith claimed Mr Cloake’s position as a committee member on the High Salvington Residents’ Association, which opposed his Furze Road application, should not be sitting on the planning committee which was debating it.

Mr Cloake abstained from voting but insisted he had stepped away from association discussions.

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“There is a conflict of interest with at least one member of the committee that shouldn’t be here voting on this subject,” Mr Meredith claimed in front of a packed crowd at Worthing Town Hall. Mr Meredith, who had already begun building works, confirmed after the meeting he would approach the Local Government Ombudsman over the issue.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Cloake, who is automatically linked with the association as a ward councillor, said: “I totally refute any suggestion of collusion and I can assure the public that there is documented evidence held by officers of my withdrawal from considering the matter at any stage prior to the meeting.”

“The facts of the application are that the applicant has begun to build what can only be described as a colossus, without planning permission, in his garden so close to the historic lane that trees and shrubs had to be removed to complete the build - this garage, complete with pitched roof and the size of a second dwelling on the property, changes the building line and is totally out of character for the area.”