Julie Belvir, the Borough Solicitor, Croydon Council‘s senior legal officer, is expected to investigate the conduct of Waddon councillor Clare Hilley.
Last month, Inside Croydon published an email from Hilley in which she offered her “planning expertise” to a leading company in the London building industry.
The email was sent in December 2010, just months after Hilley had been appointed to the influential planning and strategic planning committees on Croydon Council.
Sent from Hilley’s official Croydon Council email account, her pitch for a job appears to be a serious breach of the council’s Code of Conduct. View the email in full by clicking here.
According to one senior employee at Taberner House who contacted us after reading our report: “If a member of staff had sent an email like that from their council address to a potential employer, it would have been grounds for immediate dismissal.”
Belvir has duties as a “monitoring officer” for the conduct of council staff and councillors.
Since our report was published, Belvir has been in correspondence with Inside Croydon Towers. Belvir wrote: “The Council ultimately ensure adherence to the Code of Conduct through the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee receives reports from the Monitoring Officer on matters of probity and ethics and, also upon matters being referred to it in accordance with the arrangements adopted by the Council … The Ethics Committee also undertakes the role of Hearings Panel in respect of a complaint that a Member has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct.”
Hilley was elected to the council in a 2009 by-election with a majority of 240 votes (John Cartwright, Croydon Conservatives’ new recruit, standing for the Monster Raving Loony party, polled a grand total of 11 votes that day).
In 2010, Hilley was re-elected with two other Conservative councillors in Waddon on a platform that promised to oppose the building of a waste incinerator (“or anything similar”) in Croydon or on its borders. She, together with Councillors Simon Hoar and Tony Harris, subsequently voted in favour of the £1 billion Viridor incinerator scheme at Beddington Lane.
More recently, the Conservative group which controls Croydon Council decided to drop Hilley from the planning and strategic planning committees. This came after the obvious conflicts of interest between that public duty and her day job working for a West End firm of building industry PRs was highlighted by Inside Croydon.
Hilley had been hired by HardHat Communications by March 2011. That was within three months of her having sent her controversial “gis a job” email to another prospective employer in the building industry, boasting of her “expertise” in planning.
HardHat’s clients include Barratt Homes, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey. On its website, the company states: “Property, planning and construction are highly political sectors where regulation, political intervention and public policy shape the market environment…
“… Our team includes seasoned public affairs professionals with excellent cross-party political networks to assist you in building relationships and promoting your interests. Whether you want public policy advice, representation with local or central government or assistance in managing political stakeholders affecting your project, HardHat has the expertise and experience to help.”
Addiscombe resident Hilley and her husband, Steven George, a public relations executive in the tech industry, are prominent activists in the Conservative party, although George has also attracted controversy in the past when he was forced to issue a public apology after a racist blog post appeared on a right-wing website which he attempts to edit. Croydon Conservatives took no disciplinary action over George’s racist blog post.
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