‘This case should have been thrown out months ago’

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the same cir­cum­stances would do it again.”

Cllr Gor­don Jack­son, chair­ing the com­mit­tee, asked Cllr Reeve to re­con­sider, say­ing: “Maybe you should just go with that and not get too worked up about it.”

But Cllr Reeve replied: “I’m sorry, I’m con­tent with the way things are.”

The al­le­ga­tions against Cllr Reeve, who rep­re­sents the Guild­ford Green­belt Group, arose from com­plaints made by GBC leader Cllr Paul Spooner and leader of the op­po­si­tion Cllr Caro­line Reeves in July 2016.

The com­plaints fol­lowed Cllr Reeve’s cir­cu­la­tion of his in­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis of Guild­ford’s Strate­gic Hous­ing Mar­ket As­sess­ment (SHMA), which in­formed the pro­duc­tion of the bor­ough’s lo­cal plan.

Cllr Reeve had de­vel­oped a dif­fer­ent model which sug­gested the of­fi­cial SHMA over­es­ti­mated Guild­ford’s hous­ing need by around 2,000 homes, and made this re­view avail­able to par­ish coun­cils and res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tions in the bor­ough.

How­ever, in com­pil­ing his model, Cllr Reeve had been I given ac­cess to a con­fi­den­tial re­port pro­duced by data com­pany Ex­pe­rian, which had been used to de­velop the coun­cil’s SHMA. Of the more than 8,000 pieces of data in this re­port, Cllr Reeve used one – their es­ti­mate of em­ploy­ment in Guild­ford in 2013 – when writ­ing his re­port.

Cllr Reeve ar­gued that while this was a “tech­ni­cal breach” of con­fi­den­tial­ity, it was far out­weighed by the pub­lic in­ter­est in hav­ing a trans­par­ent as­sess­ment of the coun­cil’s fig­ures and in alert­ing res­i­dents to the pos­si­bil­ity of the hous­ing need be­ing over­stated.

De­liv­er­ing the com­mit­tee’s ver­dict, Cllr Jack­son said: “All par­ties ac­cept that the in­for­ma­tion [dis­closed by Cllr Reeve] was con­fi­den­tial. Cllr Reeve sug­gests that the in­for­ma­tion was de min­imis, but the com­mit­tee does not ac­cept this ar­gu­ment.

“Ei­ther con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion has been re­leased or it has not.

The tests for pub­lic in­ter­est do not ap­ply in this case.”

Af­ter the meet­ing, Cllr Reeve said: “This is a bad day for Guild­ford.

“The ex­tra­or­di­nary thing about this case is that it hinged on the dis­clo­sure of a sin­gle num­ber from a con­fi­den­tial Ex­pe­rian re­port com­posed of 8,300 num­bers.

“Against that I set the le­git­i­mate pub­lic in­ter­est of all res­i­dents of this bor­ough in the deriva­tion of the ob­jec­tive hous­ing need, which in turn drives the num­ber of houses in the lo­cal plan. It seems to me that the re­sult of bal­anc­ing that pub­lic in­ter­est against one num­ber falls un­equiv­o­cally on the side of the pub­lic in­ter­est.

“The ver­dict that I breached con­fi­den­tial­ity when the pub­lic in­ter­est is a de­fence makes no sense to me. In my opin­ion this case should have been thrown out months ago.”

The mem­bers of the sub­com­mit­tee will now com­pile a re­port for full coun­cil to con­sider.

Nei­ther Cllr Spooner nor Cllr Reeves at­tended the hear­ing. Cllr Reeves was out of the coun­try, while Cllr Spooner said pro­ce­dural rules meant he could not speak at the meet­ing and he did not wish to be ac­cused of try­ing to in­flu­ence the meet­ing by his pres­ence.

Cllr Spooner said: “I am pleased that the panel up­held the sub­stan­tive com­plaint at to­day’s hear­ing although I was dis­ap­pointed that Cllr Reeve was not asked to apol­o­gise to coun­cil for his ac­tions.”

Bethanie and Mia Wig­more were an­nounced as the win­ners of White Lion Walk’s Mo­nop­oly Trea­sure Hunt, which took place dur­ing the school sum­mer hol­i­days. The win­ners, aged eight and 10 from Guild­ford, were picked at ran­dom from more than 800 en­tries. They are pic­tured here with Sam Orledge, op­er­a­tions man­ager for White Lion Walk

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