LETTER: Post tenable?

IN the Chichester Observer of February 11, there was a piece headlined “Councillor denies role in ‘pro’ [northern] A27 campaign”.

An email which Councillor Pieter Montyn sent out on 20/12/15, to an unspecified number of people, reads: “They [the Chichester Deserves Better campaign group] are a little early and lacking in detail to have effective parish council meetings. We need to get together in the new year with willing individuals of whatever kind (PC members or not) and begin work on a better informed pro [northern route] campaign. Pieter.”

When questioned about this Councillor Montyn replied: “You can make what you will of a piece of private correspondence with someone who approached me.”

Accepting Councillor Montyn’s invitation to “make what you will” of his email, I would suggest it is entirely reasonable to think that, private or not, such correspondence raises serious questions about the conduct of an elected representative who is currently Special Adviser to Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, on the question of improvements to the A27. For this private email was written a short while before – at the January 2016 WSCC open meeting in Chichester – Councillor Montyn denied having any current engagement in any active campaigning for a northern bypass.

Councillor Montyn is an influential figure in Chichester. He sits with the Leader of WSCC on the Chichester Harbour Conservancy board, a substantial stakeholder in the A27 review process. He is also Chairman of the Coast to Capital Local Transport Body. As with every elected representative, Councillor Montyn is fully entitled to have a view on any proposal for a new or improved bypass for Chichester. However, given his position as Special Adviser to Louise Goldsmith, it is especially important that, as with all elected representatives, any such view that Councillor Montyn holds be expressed with due regard to democratic procedure.

Is Councillor Montyn’s position as Special Advisor to Louise Goldsmith still tenable? Item 6 of WSCC’s published code of conduct states that: “Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty may be questioned, should not behave dishonestly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.”

And that is why I have written to Mr Tony Kershaw, Head of Law and Governance at County Hall, to request that further light be shed on this matter.

Dr Michael Tucker

Pook Lane, Chichester