Councillor offered training after parking permit blunder

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A Horsham District councillor found abusing his free parking permit has been sent for training after an inquiry by the council Standards Committee.

As reported exclusively in The County Times on March 15 2012, following an investigation by this newspaper, Andrew Dunlop (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead) was found parking in the BT Exchange car park, North Street, Horsham, whilst on private business.

Mr Dunlop promptly apologised unreservedly, said he would repay the money, and offered to be referred to the council’s standards board.

The matter came before the Standards Committee Local Assessment Sub-Committee last month.

The minutes released last week revealed that Mr Dunlop, who was elected in May 2011, became aware of the breach on March 6 in an email from the HDC director for development and environment.

As highlighted shortly after the incident, the minutes state: “The key principle underlying the terms and conditions upon which a member parking pass is issued is that public office and public resources should not be used to further purely private purposes.”

Mr Dunlop told council chief executive Tom Crowley he believed he parked there on seven occasions and therefore owed the council £52.50 in parking fees.

The minutes confirm he has since repaid this amount in full to the council.

The three members of the sub committee decided that although there might be breaches of the Code of Members’ Conduct, they directed Mr Dunlop’s case not to be referred for a local investigation.

Instead members decided that the monitoring officer be asked to arrange training for Mr Dunlop in relation to the council’s rules regarding the use of car parking permits.

They gave 18 reasons for the decision including that Mr Dunlop had admitted the act and issued an apology and that the complaint suggested Mr Dunlop had ‘a poor understanding of these requirements in relation to the use of member parking permits’. They believed the additional training was ‘a proportionate response to the allegation’. Last week Mr Dunlop confirmed he had carried out the training. He said: “I have nothing to add than what I said at the time. I accept the committee’s findings and will co-operate fully with them.”

The County Times investigated after residents saw Mr Dunlop parking his Jaguar for free before catching the train from Horsham railway station.