‘Resign’ call over plan

Scruples site, Lytham front
Scruples site, Lytham front

A Fylde councillor has issued a renewed call for a fellow member to consider his position following his part in recommending a bid to develop a key coastal site.

Coun Tim Ashton said Coun Charlie Duffy should be “thoroughly ashamed” of his role earlier this year at a meeting about the redevelopment of the Scruples site on Lytham foreshore.

Coun Duffy’s wife is a member of the Lytham St Annes Civic Society, the group which eventually won the chance to revamp the former mussel tanks site.

Now, following an independent inquiry – brought about after a complaint by Park View, which had also bid to redevelop the site – it has been found Coun Duffy failed to notify members of his wife’s role. In doing so he broke the council’s Code of Conduct.

However, the inquiry cleared him of affecting the vote at the meeting of the Community Focus Scrutiny Committee.

After Fylde Council backed the Civic Society’s plans, Park View then won permission for the £400,000 sand and water play area at its park in Lytham.

Today, Coun Ashton urged Coun Duffy to consider his role, calling the decision “an absolute disgrace.”

He added: “I do not agree with the decision. He should consider his position.

“He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

“It is a great spot on the front which had the chance to be upgraded – £400,000 of external funding.

“The reason it is not on the front and will be at Park View is down to him. He should hang his head in shame.”

But Coun Duffy said he felt his part at the meeting was not improper.

He said: “I am disappointed that Park View or its representatives did seem to conduct a bit of a personal campaign on social media as well as complain to the council.

“The complaint was not just about the meeting – there were other bits which were frankly ridiculous.They accused me of being a ‘particularly well prepared substitute.

“The investigation was very thorough – I can’t argue with the conclusion. At the time I read the constitution and did not feel it would affect my wife’s well being.”

In March, the council’s Community Focus Scrutiny Committee met to review the two plans, and backed a scheme which looks to celebrate the history of Lytham Green, the RNLI, shipping and the town’s fishing industry. The decision was then rubber-stamped by the council.

Richard Norman, chairman of Park View 4U, said: “While we fully accepted the scrutiny committee decision regarding the Scruples site we felt Park View hadn’t been given a fair hearing and that the committee had been strongly influenced by Coun Duffy who was only in attendance at that meeting as a substitute.

“The reaction we had from the public left us feeling we should ask the council to 
investigate.

“It has been determined Coun Charles Duffy broke 
Fylde Council’s Code of Conduct by failing to declare a personal interest.

“Coun Duffy elected not to disclose the fact his wife is a trustee of the Civic Society despite her being present at the meeting and personally assisting the group with their presentation to the committee.

“We are satisfied with the findings and happy that this matter is now closed.”

A Fylde Council spokesman added: “Coun Duffy has not been censured but he has been asked by the Standards Committee to offer an explanation to the chairman of the Community Focus Committee (CFC) as to his actions at the March meeting when he voted to support the Lytham St Annes Civic Society’s proposal for the Scruples site.

“An independent investigation has looked at whether Coun Duffy broke the Code of Conduct and concluded Coun Duffy had failed to inform the council and committee of his wife’s involvement.

“It was also concluded that his interest in the matter was not significant enough to prejudice his judgment of the public interest.

“The investigation also found that Coun Duffy’s vote for the Civic Society proposal was not an improper conferment of advantage or disadvantage for one side or the other.”