Parish councillors' quit threat over financial interest declaration

Parish councillors in East Yorkshire have threatened to resign over new rules on publishing their families' financial interests on the web.

The law, which comes in on 1 July, means parish councillors and their partners must list their financial interests on the council's website.

One parish councillor said he was concerned about the information being "misused".

The government said the new regulation was "to avoid conflicts of interests."

Some members of Sancton Parish Council, which covers the area near Market Weighton in East Yorkshire, have threatened to resign over the issue.

The councillors have written to their local MP and the prime minister to complain about the regulation.

Graham Ward, chairman of Sancton Parish Council, said members were concerned about the information being "misused".

"We are exposed to anybody in the world," he said.

"Our email addresses, our home addresses, our interests, to anyone.

'Not significantly different'

"Why a volunteer person looking after a small village with 300 people and looking after their interests should we be exposed to harassment from anywhere else in the world?

"It seems totally disproportionate to me."

The Department for Communities and Local Government introduced the requirements as part of the Localism Bill in 2011.

The department said the new rules were "not significantly different from the requirements on the registration of financial interests by parish councillors introduced back in 2001."

A DCLG spokesman said: "The government is abolishing the discredited Standards Board regime, which fuelled petty and malicious complaints against councillors, frequently at a parish level - and discouraged residents from getting involved in parish councils.

"However, elected representatives should continue to declare financial interests in an open and transparent way, to avoid conflicts of interest especially on issues such as planning applications."

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