A senior councillor has been censured and ordered to apologise after being reported to the Standards Committee by his own party leader.
Labour’s Coun Jim Allan was reported by Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn after failing to declare an interest in a planning application while sitting on a committee in June 2017.
The misdemeanour occurred when Coun Allan sat as a substitute member on the committee and did not report that a business associate, Robin Cairns, was involved in an application by Wallsend Boys Club for an outdoor floodlit football pitch.
During the meeting, Coun Allan called on the opening hours to be extended from 9pm to 10pm.
Following the complaint by Mrs Redfearn, a Standards Sub-Committee has ruled that Coun Allan undergoes training and imposed a formal censure as an expression of severe disapproval.
It also said Coun Allan should write a letter of apology to the Elected Mayor and all councillors.
In its report, the sub-committee said: “The sub-committee accepted and agreed with the views from the investigating officer and the independent person that while they had found breaches of the Code of Conduct they were not at the most serious end of the spectrum and there had not been any personal gain for Coun Allan.”
In a letter to the monitoring officer, Coun Allan said: “I should have declared a non-pecuniary interest and I accept the fault, which I sincerely apologise for.”
Speaking to the News Guardian, Coun Allan said: “When the item came up at the planning committee I saw the applicant was Wallsend Boys Club, I didn’t see it as an individual, and I felt I was able to make a contribution because it was a local charity who are supported by the council.
“I didn’t think at the time I was doing anything wrong.
“I’ve accepted the findings of the committee and I’m sending a letter of apology to all councillors. It won’t happen again.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ve committed a major crime.
“It’s been made into a mountain out of a molehill.”
Mrs Redfearn said: “I’ve always felt that we should have a council that is open and honest and if anyone doesn’t carry out the behaviour that is expected of a councillor I’ll take them to the Standards Committee.
“I hope because I have done this and it’s one of my own councillors that it reassures residents that we are open and honest.
“I won’t allow the name of this council to be brought into disrepute. At the end of the day, I can’t allow anyone to do this.
“Councillors are public servants and have a code of conduct to adhere to. If any councillor is found not to have behaved according to the code they can be referred to the Standards Committee.”