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Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Offer My Resignation

It is with deep regret and a heavy heart that I inform you all that I have today offered my resignation as Hackney Labour Group Chief Whip, a position I have held since 2002 - the latter half of Tony Blair's Prime Ministership.

I wonder who will be resigning next?I have tried my very best to avoid this unpleasant situation. Earlier this week I wrote - in an attempt to hide from my responsibilities and deflect the blame that I now accept was wholly improper - "It seems that my sound legal advice has not been accepted, though I'm still certain that [Councillor] Darren [Parker] will be fully cleared and vindicated in the end, even if he has to resign in order to make his point. We're doing our bit at this end, refusing to schedule any meetings to discuss the matter further and our friends in The Standards Board for England are doing the same. So long as nothing more appears in the media or on those rabble-rousing swimmers' blogsites, we should be OK."

And I am even more embarrassed that as recently as two hours ago I declined to accept personal responsibility for what has happened, claiming: "I accept absolutely no personal responsibility for not having identified this as a potential issue when I recommended that the Group appoint Councillor Parker to the Planning Committee... I still say that he has done nothing wrong. He won't be resigning. There's more chance of Julian resigning than Darren!"

Hackney Labour Group has agreed to issue the following statement on the matter of Councillor Parker and the Dalston Lane South planning vote, announcing Darren's resignation:

"Cllr Darren Parker has recognised that he made an error in judgement in not declaring an interest at the planning committee that considered the Dalston Lane South applications in July 2006. He had been a councillor for just over two months when this occurred, and had recently started working in the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in a capacity that had no involvement with any planning applications. He accepts now that this could appear to the public as a conflict of interest.

Cllr Luke Akehurst, Chief Whip of Hackney Labour Group said: "Cllr Parker has at all times acted in good faith. He accepts the findings of the inquiry and now that it has been identified that his job at CABE may conflict with his responsibilities on the Planning Committee, he has resigned as a member of that Committee. As Chief Whip of the Labour Group, I accept a personal responsibility for not having identified this as a potential issue when I recommended that the Group appoint Cllr Parker to the Planning Committee."

In light of this clear invitation for me to fall upon my own sword, I have this evening accepted the inevitable and agreed to do so. I shall continue to exercise my duties and responsibilities as an elected representative for Chatham Ward until such time as the electorate is given the opportunity to make its opinions known at a local election.

On Tuesday evening the roof caved in for my heroine, the MP for Salford. Tonight the roof has caved in for me.


Clear Hardly said...

Luke - before you do a runner please clarify your comment regarding the "potential issue". Are you saying that when you recommended Darren for the Committe you didn't check the members register of interests or ask him what his job? (A basic point surely.) Or you knew what his job was but didn't realise he may have a conflict of interest? (Hardly credible given your political experience.) Or you knew all of this but, because you regard your constituents as so ignorant, you didn't think it would be found out and become an issue? And can you tell us why the Register of Members interest is no longer update and published on your website?

See Ya said...

Ta ta

Not surprised in the least said...

No one can check the members register of interests anymore, the council removed this from the web Am I right in saying that to get access to that information a member of the public must submit a written request to the council. I wonder what they have to hide?

What silly question

Luke Akehurst said...

Not surprised in the least said...

No one can check the members register of interests anymore.. I wonder what they have to hide?

We have nothing to hide. I will make arrangements to ensure that you can see the Register of Members' Interests as this is a statutory obligation of a local authority and you would not expect us to fail to exercise such responsibilities.

Watch this space and I will address your concerns as soon as possible.