Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner cleared at leader's panel

Cllr Rayner at tonight's meeting

Cllr Rayner at tonight's meeting

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner has been cleared after he was accused of failing to declare his role as a landlord at council meetings and abusing his position as a councillor.

The Hale councillor was the subject of a four-month investigation over the allegations – and although he was cleared, the vote was not unanimous.

It took more than two hours for the committee, made up of three Conservative and two Labour members, to come to their decision at Hendon Town Hall, in The Burroughs.

The complaints, brought by GLA member for Barnet Andrew Dismore, related to five budget meetings and business overview and scrutiny meetings between 2010 and 2014.

Cllr Rayner owns a total of 19 properties across Barnet and he is also accused of helping a tenant recieve discretionary housing payments from Barnet Homes.

Although there was a motion to hold the meeting in private, which the Times Series disputed in a letter to the authority, council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said there was “no reason” for this.

With Cllr Cornelius having previously spoken out in support of his Tory colleague, Labour leader Cllr Alison Moore said she was “uncomfortable” with allowing him to chair the meeting.

As they began discussing the matter, Cllr Cornelius said that although Cllr Rayner failed to declare his interests verbally, he had in fact made full written representations about his interests.

Labour councillor Barry Rawlings suggested looking at whether a “reasonable person” would think Cllr Rayner should have let the committees know about the interests before the meeting – to which Cllr Cornelius said: “That would be like a member of the AA contributing to a debate about a motoring matter.”

The panel’s independent member, Tanya Ossack, who did not have a vote, did raise concerns about Cllr Rayner’s failure to declare the interests.

She said: “Someone whose living seems to be from renting out property in the private sector has a great interest in how it blossoms.

“Any discussions by the council affect his personal livelihood. There have been full declarations in the register of interests, so anyone could find them easily.

“There’s a blurring between acting as a councillor and acting as a landlord. I don’t know if it’s much more than that. You just need to be a bit more careful.”

However, she added: “I don’t understand why someone who has an interest in something wouldn’t say so at a meeting.”

After Cllr Rayner was cleared, Cllr Cornelius admitted there is “a lot of greyness” about the council’s code of conduct.

In a statement at the end of the meeting, Cllr Rayner said: “I thank my peers for deliberating on this at length and coming to the conclusions they did.”

He also encouraged all landlords to join the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme – something which up until June, Cllr Rayner was not part of.

He added: “I would suggest also that I would commend Mr Dismore to join it, if he decides to let his house out."

Cllr Rayner withdrew this comment after being instructed to do so by Cllr Cornelius.

Comments (10)

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10:00am Thu 4 Sep 14

Jimbokav1971 says...

I don't really understand this. Does Cllr Rayner, (or anyone else for that matter), have an obligation to declare verbally if they have an interest in a partucular matter, or do Cllrs have the option to decide to declare this in writing?

If it is reasonable and standard behaviour to declare interests in private and in writing, (what happened to transparency?), then this was little more than a storm in a tea-cup. If however it is not reasonable and standard behaviour, then this is akin to sweeping it under the carpet, (if only Barnet Tories did even that much cleaning of house).

It does beg a number of question though.... Who else has declared written interests, (that for some reason they are unwilling to do so verbally when called upon), what areas are these interests in, and who looks at this and decides if it is appropriate that they be allowed to debate/discuss/vote on these issues?

Without knowing this information, how is anyone to know if things are being operated fairly, legally and in the interests of the Borough and it's residents rather than interests of the individual Cllrs and their respective political parties?
I don't really understand this. Does Cllr Rayner, (or anyone else for that matter), have an obligation to declare verbally if they have an interest in a partucular matter, or do Cllrs have the option to decide to declare this in writing? If it is reasonable and standard behaviour to declare interests in private and in writing, (what happened to transparency?), then this was little more than a storm in a tea-cup. If however it is not reasonable and standard behaviour, then this is akin to sweeping it under the carpet, (if only Barnet Tories did even that much cleaning of house). It does beg a number of question though.... Who else has declared written interests, (that for some reason they are unwilling to do so verbally when called upon), what areas are these interests in, and who looks at this and decides if it is appropriate that they be allowed to debate/discuss/vote on these issues? Without knowing this information, how is anyone to know if things are being operated fairly, legally and in the interests of the Borough and it's residents rather than interests of the individual Cllrs and their respective political parties? Jimbokav1971
  • Score: 2

10:02am Thu 4 Sep 14

Jimbokav1971 says...

I don't really understand this. Does Cllr Rayner, (or anyone else for that matter), have an obligation to declare verbally if they have an interest in a particular matter, or do Cllrs have the option to decide to declare this in writing?

If it is reasonable and standard behaviour to declare interests in private and in writing, (what happened to transparency?), then this was little more than a storm in a tea-cup. If however it is not reasonable and standard behaviour, then this is akin to sweeping it under the carpet, (if only Barnet Tories did even that much cleaning of house).

It does beg a number of question though.... Who else has declared written interests, (that for some reason they are unwilling to do so verbally when called upon), what areas are these interests in, and who looks at this and decides if it is appropriate that they be allowed to debate/discuss/vote on these issues?

Without knowing this information, how is anyone to know if things are being operated fairly, legally and in the interests of the Borough and it's residents rather than interests of the individual Cllrs and their respective political parties?
I don't really understand this. Does Cllr Rayner, (or anyone else for that matter), have an obligation to declare verbally if they have an interest in a particular matter, or do Cllrs have the option to decide to declare this in writing? If it is reasonable and standard behaviour to declare interests in private and in writing, (what happened to transparency?), then this was little more than a storm in a tea-cup. If however it is not reasonable and standard behaviour, then this is akin to sweeping it under the carpet, (if only Barnet Tories did even that much cleaning of house). It does beg a number of question though.... Who else has declared written interests, (that for some reason they are unwilling to do so verbally when called upon), what areas are these interests in, and who looks at this and decides if it is appropriate that they be allowed to debate/discuss/vote on these issues? Without knowing this information, how is anyone to know if things are being operated fairly, legally and in the interests of the Borough and it's residents rather than interests of the individual Cllrs and their respective political parties? Jimbokav1971
  • Score: 0

12:14pm Thu 4 Sep 14

AverageBarnetResident says...

It is most certainly a storm in a teacup. The Labour party saw an opportunity to attack a conservative councillor and went for it, even though he had done nothing wrong. Waste of everyone's time and money, but what more would you expect from Dismal Dismore and the Barnet Labour party? This, apparently, is the quality of their "opposition".
It is most certainly a storm in a teacup. The Labour party saw an opportunity to attack a conservative councillor and went for it, even though he had done nothing wrong. Waste of everyone's time and money, but what more would you expect from Dismal Dismore and the Barnet Labour party? This, apparently, is the quality of their "opposition". AverageBarnetResident
  • Score: -18

2:03pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

Oh dear, Average Barnet Tory is at it again.

Failure to declare a pecuniary interest is a very serious matter: indeed it is now a criminal offence. Is this politically weighted panel, in which the Tories have a majority, capable of judging such allegations objectively, and fairly? Is it the appropriate forum for such matters? No, and no, in my opinion.

In regard to declarations of interest: the requirement to submit entries in a register of interest is separate to the need to make verbal admissions in meetings where such interests might pose a conflict.

Clearly it is not reasonable to expect members of the public, or even all councillors, to know whether or not a member of a committee has any interest in the register. That is why the law has now been strengthened by Pickles specifically around the issue of pecuniary interests

Oh, and some Tory councillors have been lax in making full written disclosures.

The Tories in Barnet fail to acknowledge that the Nolan Principles, and the commitment to honesty, integrity and transparency, in a code which is supposed to underpin their actions in their public roles, applies to them. They show nothing but contempt for such obligations, in fact.

They have now granted themselves dispensation to make declarations - yet again failing to see that this only casts the worst reflection on their party, and on the council as a whole.
Oh dear, Average Barnet Tory is at it again. Failure to declare a pecuniary interest is a very serious matter: indeed it is now a criminal offence. Is this politically weighted panel, in which the Tories have a majority, capable of judging such allegations objectively, and fairly? Is it the appropriate forum for such matters? No, and no, in my opinion. In regard to declarations of interest: the requirement to submit entries in a register of interest is separate to the need to make verbal admissions in meetings where such interests might pose a conflict. Clearly it is not reasonable to expect members of the public, or even all councillors, to know whether or not a member of a committee has any interest in the register. That is why the law has now been strengthened by Pickles specifically around the issue of pecuniary interests Oh, and some Tory councillors have been lax in making full written disclosures. The Tories in Barnet fail to acknowledge that the Nolan Principles, and the commitment to honesty, integrity and transparency, in a code which is supposed to underpin their actions in their public roles, applies to them. They show nothing but contempt for such obligations, in fact. They have now granted themselves dispensation to make declarations - yet again failing to see that this only casts the worst reflection on their party, and on the council as a whole. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 17

7:02pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Mr E Dance says...

If a landlord turned up on my doorstep at 10pm with a new tenancy agreement & insisted I sign it, in the absence of the witness (sic), I think I'd (quite reasonably) form the view, 'he's a bit dodgy'.
If that's the kind of guy fit for the role of Mayor, I think it says a lot about our Tory Council. End of (as the young people say)!
If a landlord turned up on my doorstep at 10pm with a new tenancy agreement & insisted I sign it, in the absence of the witness (sic), I think I'd (quite reasonably) form the view, 'he's a bit dodgy'. If that's the kind of guy fit for the role of Mayor, I think it says a lot about our Tory Council. End of (as the young people say)! Mr E Dance
  • Score: 13

6:43am Fri 5 Sep 14

Rog T says...

I see that our favourite councillor is back posting nonsense. What the Tories don't see is that this has not done them a favour. Such a biased, partisan panel cannot be taken seriously.

http://barneteye.blo
gspot.co.uk/2014/09/
barnet-mayor-hugh-ra
yner-cleared-by-his.
html
I see that our favourite councillor is back posting nonsense. What the Tories don't see is that this has not done them a favour. Such a biased, partisan panel cannot be taken seriously. http://barneteye.blo gspot.co.uk/2014/09/ barnet-mayor-hugh-ra yner-cleared-by-his. html Rog T
  • Score: 10

5:03pm Fri 5 Sep 14

AverageBarnetResident says...

Sorry Mrs A, I literally couldn't read your whole post. The tired sham-outrage and one-sided analysis has become boring now. Even amongst your blogger peers and labour party representitives, you have become a bit of a joke.

E Dance - love your use of trendy kids' language. However, your attempted portrayal of Rayner as some kind of pantomime villain is not believable. Probabaly why he has been cleared of all charges. Good try though.

Rog T - do you really want to get into this again? Last time I made you look really silly in fron of all your bloggers pals and you got in a huge huff. As amusing as it was for everyone, I'm only thinking of your blood pressure.
Sorry Mrs A, I literally couldn't read your whole post. The tired sham-outrage and one-sided analysis has become boring now. Even amongst your blogger peers and labour party representitives, you have become a bit of a joke. E Dance - love your use of trendy kids' language. However, your attempted portrayal of Rayner as some kind of pantomime villain is not believable. Probabaly why he has been cleared of all charges. Good try though. Rog T - do you really want to get into this again? Last time I made you look really silly in fron of all your bloggers pals and you got in a huge huff. As amusing as it was for everyone, I'm only thinking of your blood pressure. AverageBarnetResident
  • Score: -9

6:42pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Mr E Dance says...

'Pantomime villain' ABR? More 'Rachman' or dodgy spiv, surely?
'Pantomime villain' ABR? More 'Rachman' or dodgy spiv, surely? Mr E Dance
  • Score: 7

2:16pm Sat 6 Sep 14

Rog T says...

AWB,

You made me look silly in front of all my blogger mates did you?

Planet Earth to Major Tom, there's something dead, the circuits wrong.

In this case, that circuit is the one in your head that governs construction of sensible comments
AWB, You made me look silly in front of all my blogger mates did you? Planet Earth to Major Tom, there's something dead, the circuits wrong. In this case, that circuit is the one in your head that governs construction of sensible comments Rog T
  • Score: 6

2:31pm Sat 6 Sep 14

Rog T says...

I suppose that, having confessed that he couldn't cope with all the big words in Mrs A's comments, we have to assume that he thinks this is how fair, impartial and interesting blogging should be done

http://truebluedanth
omas.blogspot.co.uk/


(Suppressed guffaws)
I suppose that, having confessed that he couldn't cope with all the big words in Mrs A's comments, we have to assume that he thinks this is how fair, impartial and interesting blogging should be done http://truebluedanth omas.blogspot.co.uk/ (Suppressed guffaws) Rog T
  • Score: 1

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