Aberdeenshire councillor suspended for lobbying on planning application
A councillor who lobbied colleagues about a proposal to build a wind turbine on his farm has been suspended from certain duties for six months.
Sandy Duncan, who represents Turriff and District, contacted Aberdeenshire Council colleagues who were due to consider a planning application for a wind turbine from a firm he was partner in.
The plans for the 150ft turbine at his Beechwood farm, near Forglen, were first submitted three years ago. But, after a protracted planning and court row, the scheme was finally rejected in February.
Councillor Duncan was found by the Standards Commission for Scotland to have breached the code of conduct for councillors for acting inappropriately by using council facilities having been expressly warned not to do so.
The hearing panel found that members of the public would reasonably conclude that, in signing off his emails as a councillor, he was using his position to seek preferential treatment.
Mr Duncan was suspended for six months from a number of committees.
Panel chairwoman Julie Ward added: “Whilst accepting that Councillor Duncan had a previously unblemished record, had referred himself for investigation and accepted he should have dealt with matters differently, he nevertheless should have ensured he kept his role as an applicant and that of a councillor separate.
“A failure to keep personal interests separate and distinct can result in council decisions being legally challenged and can erode public confidence and trust in local government and the democratic process itself.”