SENIOR Surrey Heath councillor and former Mayor Gordon Parris is still being investigated by the English Standards Board over allegations of failure to disclose interests in three planning applications, it was revealed this week.
But Coun. Parris denied that he had any declarable interests in any of the applications and criticised the board for taking many months to decide on the complaints.
The first allegation dates back to last July over a planning application from Deepcut Garages for the "Sooty" site at Frimley Green and Coun. Parris said he believed he had dealt with the matter correctly and he did not have an interest.
He said the other two concerned applications in August and September where the applicants were said to be fellow members of the Chobham Business Club. He said he had been advised that this was not a declarable interest - but in any event neither of them had been members for two years. All three applications had been approved unan-imously.
Coun. Parris said he had been forced to miss the last five planning meetings, as he did not think it was right to attend when his integrity was under question.
Commenting on last week's Star story about freemasons on Surrey Heath Council, Coun. Parris said he left the masons in 1995 soon after setting up his own charity -"my life is so full that I had to give up something."
The standards board confirmed that the matter had been referred to one of its ethical standards officers for a full investigation. It said it could not say how long this would take, but the majority of cases were completed within five months.
Coun. Parris observed: "There should be a standards board and people have to have the ability to make legal representations. But this has been going on for nearly seven months since the first allegation and if I had been standing trial for a serious matter it would have been dealt with by now."
There are four possible outcomes. The board can find that there is no evidence or that there is evidence of a breach of the council code, but no further action is necessary. A third option of referring it back to Surrey Heath's own standards committee is not currently possible as the Government has not yet finally authorised this approach.
The most serious cases are referred to the Adjudication Panel for England, which has a range of sanctions including disqualification for up to five years, or up to a year's suspension.