Former leader Cllr Andrew Finney is told to say sorry

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr Andrew Finney Cllr Andrew Finney

FORMER Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader Andrew Finney will tonight make a public apology after he failed to declare that his wife was a member of a golf club that may profit from a multi-million-pound land deal.

The senior Conservative, who led the ruling Tory administration from May 2008 to December 2011, and is still a member of the decision-making Cabinet, has been found to have breached the councillors’ code of conduct by failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest.

A decision report in tonight’s full council agenda states that Cllr Finney’s wife was a member of Basingstoke Golf Club when her husband voted on including the site in a blueprint of which land should be developed for housing over the next 15 years.

Previous media reports have stated that should the golf club members sell the land for housing, each individual in the private members’ club could net £130,000.

While this claim has been firmly dismissed by the golf club, in November 2011, more than 70 per cent of the 700 club members voted to offer the 43.4-hectare site in Kempshott for sale as a potential housing site.

The golf club members could gain a collective multi-million-pound windfall if their land is sold to a housing developer, once permission has been granted by the borough council.

While clearing the Oakley and North Waltham ward member of “bringing the council into disrepute”, the final decision of independent member Liz Morris, who signed off the standards investigation which also involved another independent person, said Cllr Finney “did breach the code of conduct” by failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest – and she has recommended that he should make a public apology to tonight’s full council meeting.

Speaking to The Gazette on Tuesday, Cllr Finney said he accepts the standards report, and he had been responsible for a “lapse of judgement”.

He said that under council rules, he did not have to declare his wife’s membership on the register of member’s interests – a point that is acknowledged in the standards ruling.

Cllr Finney also stressed that his voting in Cabinet was not dictated by speculation over potential financial gains of selling the site to developers.

But he admitted: “It is up to me to make sure that I am above any potential suspicion from wherever it comes from. I failed, in this particular incidence, to ensure there could be no doubt whatsoever as to my motivations for doing anything in the council.

“I accept the determination of the report. I am disappointed that an error of judgement necessitated standards having to get involved.

“I was asked a question ‘do you think there’s a potential financial benefit?’ (by selling the golf club). I haven’t got a clue and no one’s got a clue at the moment because it depends on a whole sequence of events happening.

“The independent members conclude that as far as they were concerned, I had no pecuniary interest, which means one which implied a financial benefit for me, and I had not done anything to unduly influence the decision one way or the other.

“I have always tried to carry out my duties, whatever my position in the council, with the highest standards of propriety, and I don’t wish that to be seen to be compromised by this lapse of judgement.”

The standards investigation was launched following a complaint by Labour group leader Cllr Laura James after she learned that Cllr Finney’s wife, Lorraine, was a member of the golf club.

She said that Cllr Finney’s actions in not declaring an interest, and voting in Cabinet on October 2011 and January 2012 to include the golf club in the site selection shortlist, were “totally unacceptable”.

“I don’t think, as politicians, we should behave in this way,” said Cllr James. “I don’t think it is acceptable at all in relation to transparency.

“We are always told as councillors: ‘what would the man on the street think about this?’ I think they would be quite disgusted about it. That’s why I made the complaint – I was disgusted.”

Comments (15)

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2:45pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Upontheroof says...

An apology? Your joking right.

Resignation would be more fitting!
An apology? Your joking right. Resignation would be more fitting! Upontheroof

2:46pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Upontheroof says...

Whoops, meant "re assigment" to volunteer to help the homeless for 12 months ...
Whoops, meant "re assigment" to volunteer to help the homeless for 12 months ... Upontheroof

4:02pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Pacifier says...

Lack of judgement??? He didnt know there'd be money in it??? ha ha ha
It aint April the 1st already is it?...you couldn't make it up!!!
Lack of judgement??? He didnt know there'd be money in it??? ha ha ha It aint April the 1st already is it?...you couldn't make it up!!! Pacifier

4:09pm Thu 13 Dec 12

W Wallace says...

Does this wife play golf? the reason I ask is that there are plenty of members whom have never swung a club who are solely in it for financial gain. This has been the case for many years. Amazing how some of these members do not even live in the country but keep up the memberships.
So what if she profits from it she will not be the only one.
Does this wife play golf? the reason I ask is that there are plenty of members whom have never swung a club who are solely in it for financial gain. This has been the case for many years. Amazing how some of these members do not even live in the country but keep up the memberships. So what if she profits from it she will not be the only one. W Wallace

4:13pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Pacifier says...

Mr Wallace..the point is he was part of the decision making process that might make a very tidy profit for his wife!!
perhaps he and Miller MP could make a joint apology for 'poor judgement' ha ha
Mr Wallace..the point is he was part of the decision making process that might make a very tidy profit for his wife!! perhaps he and Miller MP could make a joint apology for 'poor judgement' ha ha Pacifier

8:30pm Thu 13 Dec 12

BugBear says...

Disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. The man has shown a total disregard for the trust placed in him knowing full well having an interest, be it his wife's, in a scheme likely to benefit her and by association him financially is morally and publicly unacceptable. He should resign.

We really do need a root and branch clear out in this country and this should go beyond councillors, MP's and authority figures covering each others backs, to the police being called in to investigate, prosecute and for the courts to convict. If not I fear this country will sink deeper and deeper into the corruption we have now become so familiar with.
Disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. The man has shown a total disregard for the trust placed in him knowing full well having an interest, be it his wife's, in a scheme likely to benefit her and by association him financially is morally and publicly unacceptable. He should resign. We really do need a root and branch clear out in this country and this should go beyond councillors, MP's and authority figures covering each others backs, to the police being called in to investigate, prosecute and for the courts to convict. If not I fear this country will sink deeper and deeper into the corruption we have now become so familiar with. BugBear

9:39am Fri 14 Dec 12

JacquesMeahof says...

I can just picture Prescott et al in the house of commons shouting "Sleaze!".

They would love this.

Could I suggest that to prove that he is 'sorry' that his wife give up her membership?
I can just picture Prescott et al in the house of commons shouting "Sleaze!". They would love this. Could I suggest that to prove that he is 'sorry' that his wife give up her membership? JacquesMeahof

9:05pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Hiliter says...

Cllr Finney finally registers his wife's membership of the Basingstoke Golf Club in August 2012 - at least 2 years after she took out the membership.His so called apology to the public at the Council meeting referred to an error of judgement - this is from a councillor who led the council and is still on an executive making decisions about which sites should have houses built on them.I am sure his wife is a committed golfer,so committed she only joins a club just 2 years ago,according to Cllr Finney but doesn't chose just any golf club but one which is proposed as a housing site and one which Cllr Finney plays a role in selecting.In November 2011golf club members decide to make their land available for sale as a housing development if selected by the Tory council,Cllr Finney still playing a key role in this,and two weeks later he resigns as leader of the council.Members of the golf club could get around 100 k each following the sale.no Cllr Finney your pathetic apology is not enough admit you have been found out and resign from public office immediately.Don't hold your breath readers!
Cllr Finney finally registers his wife's membership of the Basingstoke Golf Club in August 2012 - at least 2 years after she took out the membership.His so called apology to the public at the Council meeting referred to an error of judgement - this is from a councillor who led the council and is still on an executive making decisions about which sites should have houses built on them.I am sure his wife is a committed golfer,so committed she only joins a club just 2 years ago,according to Cllr Finney but doesn't chose just any golf club but one which is proposed as a housing site and one which Cllr Finney plays a role in selecting.In November 2011golf club members decide to make their land available for sale as a housing development if selected by the Tory council,Cllr Finney still playing a key role in this,and two weeks later he resigns as leader of the council.Members of the golf club could get around 100 k each following the sale.no Cllr Finney your pathetic apology is not enough admit you have been found out and resign from public office immediately.Don't hold your breath readers! Hiliter

10:51am Mon 17 Dec 12

Hooked on you says...

Hiliter...You took the words right out of my mouth. Couldn't agree more.
Hiliter...You took the words right out of my mouth. Couldn't agree more. Hooked on you

11:05pm Mon 17 Dec 12

DCSharps says...

I'm not surprised - never trust a Romulan
I'm not surprised - never trust a Romulan DCSharps

11:04am Tue 18 Dec 12

ThomasPaine says...

The Tories sheer brazen arrogance knows no limits.

'I'm Sorry', sorry for what, for sitting and chairing a cabinet meeting where it was decided that the Golf Club would be promoted as site, but he forgot his wife was a member and stood to potentially gain financially.

Sorry, for sitting in two Cabinet meetings and voting on that same issue.

Sorry for being found out, because presumably he would have carried on regardless if he hadn't been found out and exposed.

Sorry for claiming his allowance and carrying on regardless as a cabinet member even after all of this.

These Tories just don't get it and according to Monday's gazette they all applauded him, what on earth are these people thinking.

Finney, you where the Council Leader when you broke the rules and sorry may be the hardest word, but you need to listen to wider world who are calling on you to resign, resign resign!

If you have any shred of dignity left you would stand down from the cabinet.....I wonder if anyone else will resign from the cabinet shortly, sorry wrong cabinet.
The Tories sheer brazen arrogance knows no limits. 'I'm Sorry', sorry for what, for sitting and chairing a cabinet meeting where it was decided that the Golf Club would be promoted as site, but he forgot his wife was a member and stood to potentially gain financially. Sorry, for sitting in two Cabinet meetings and voting on that same issue. Sorry for being found out, because presumably he would have carried on regardless if he hadn't been found out and exposed. Sorry for claiming his allowance and carrying on regardless as a cabinet member even after all of this. These Tories just don't get it and according to Monday's gazette they all applauded him, what on earth are these people thinking. Finney, you where the Council Leader when you broke the rules and sorry may be the hardest word, but you need to listen to wider world who are calling on you to resign, resign resign! If you have any shred of dignity left you would stand down from the cabinet.....I wonder if anyone else will resign from the cabinet shortly, sorry wrong cabinet. ThomasPaine

4:11pm Tue 18 Dec 12

Opinions_opinions says...

You all sound surprised that a Councillor has done something wrong ? It is as though you didn't expect them to do something wrong ! Actually that is unfair as I am sure there are many legitimate good "honest" councillors from all party's that actually do want to work and improve things for their local ward. However, when we hear of stories such as Finney's it tars all the rest of them with the same brush. Surely for the good honest members of this council from all the party's they should vote to have them kicked out and not accept their feeble excuses which no one really believes. Power breeds corruption and her we have the perfect example. We should all now rush to join this golf club and dilute any monies that may be paid out to members in the future. But hold on .. you probably have to be invited to be a member and that probably means knowing a member of the secret handshake brigade who are all in it together to keep everyone else out of any future pay off !! Resign Mr Finney and take your MP for Battersea, sorry I mean Basingstoke, with you.
You all sound surprised that a Councillor has done something wrong ? It is as though you didn't expect them to do something wrong ! Actually that is unfair as I am sure there are many legitimate good "honest" councillors from all party's that actually do want to work and improve things for their local ward. However, when we hear of stories such as Finney's it tars all the rest of them with the same brush. Surely for the good honest members of this council from all the party's they should vote to have them kicked out and not accept their feeble excuses which no one really believes. Power breeds corruption and her we have the perfect example. We should all now rush to join this golf club and dilute any monies that may be paid out to members in the future. But hold on .. you probably have to be invited to be a member and that probably means knowing a member of the secret handshake brigade who are all in it together to keep everyone else out of any future pay off !! Resign Mr Finney and take your MP for Battersea, sorry I mean Basingstoke, with you. Opinions_opinions

8:08am Wed 19 Dec 12

willerby caravans says...

It's time to get rid of this comfy club in the Councul. The same faces, the usual suspects.

Time for frsh people, new faces, normal working folk who understand what the voters want and who actually listen and are notb self serving.
Cons, Limp Dems Lab need not apply
It's time to get rid of this comfy club in the Councul. The same faces, the usual suspects. Time for frsh people, new faces, normal working folk who understand what the voters want and who actually listen and are notb self serving. Cons, Limp Dems Lab need not apply willerby caravans

11:52am Wed 19 Dec 12

Pacifier says...

What's going on in this country, prominent Cllrs MP and police all falling well below standards expected! I'm getting so disillusioned...my country is going down the drain and all they can do is 'apologise'...and the tory sheep cllrs applaud!! time for them to be kicked out of power! Disgraceful!!
What's going on in this country, prominent Cllrs MP and police all falling well below standards expected! I'm getting so disillusioned...my country is going down the drain and all they can do is 'apologise'...and the tory sheep cllrs applaud!! time for them to be kicked out of power! Disgraceful!! Pacifier

11:52am Wed 19 Dec 12

Pacifier says...

What's going on in this country, prominent Cllrs MP and police all falling well below standards expected! I'm getting so disillusioned...my country is going down the drain and all they can do is 'apologise'...and the tory sheep cllrs applaud!! time for them to be kicked out of power! Disgraceful!!
What's going on in this country, prominent Cllrs MP and police all falling well below standards expected! I'm getting so disillusioned...my country is going down the drain and all they can do is 'apologise'...and the tory sheep cllrs applaud!! time for them to be kicked out of power! Disgraceful!! Pacifier

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