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Thursday, 21 September 2017

UPDATED: Southampton Labour Councillors Under Investigation

Southampton Labour's Wilting Rose
UPDATE (7th October 2017):

Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope has submitted a formal complaint on Labour Councillor for Millbrook Mike Denness. 

A similar and related complaint was raised by Conservative Councillor Jeremy Moulton. The Independent Person investigating as an external investigator has been appointed.

We have substantial evidence going back to 2014 which supports Councillor Pope's complaint and the allegations made. Residents support our complaint, because they are very unhappy with Councillor Denness' conduct.

Councillor Pope also attended the Council's Planning and Rights of Way Panel on Tuesday, representing Redbridge residents against the Test Lane development. Neither of the two Labour councillors for Redbridge, McEwing and Whitbread, attended to stand up for Redbridge residents.

Despite attempts by Councillor Denness and the Legal Officer present to prevent him from speaking up, Andrew spoke up to say that because of the investigation into Councillor Denness, that Councillor Denness should not be chairing the Planning meeting. Andrew suggested that Labour and Tory councillors should propose a vote of no confidence in Councillor Denness. Sadly, they failed to do so.

Councillor Denness presided as Chair over the entire meeting, including the McDonald's at Woolston and the Test Lane development, which was not refused AGAIN for a FIFTH time.

Incredibly, two Cabinet members spoke on the McDonald's development without declaring an interest, since they had been involved in the Cabinet on the sale of the land at McDonald's. The Cabinet APPROVED THE SALE OF THE LAND.

Southampton Independents think that Labour councillors Warwick Payne and Councillor Christopher Hammond should be more open and transparent about their previous dealings with McDonald's. Do you agree with us?

Leader of Southampton Independents Denise Wyatt also spoke at the meeting against the Test Lane development. Denise urged the Labour and Tory councillors sitting on the PROW Panel that Councillor Denness be removed as Chair. As noted above, they refused to do so.

Denise has also asked for her Formal Complaint into the Leader of the Council, Labour Councillor Simon Letts, to be re-opened in the light of the complaints into Councillor Denness, who was relied upon to defend Councillor Letts.

Southampton Independents also understands that residents are considering submitting formal complaints into Councillor Denness.

Southampton Independents listens to residents. We take action for residents.

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BBC Radio Solent political reporter Hannah Bewley's Twitter feed said on Wednesday 20th September 2017 that Southampton Labour* Councillor for Millbrook Mike Denness is under investigation by Southampton City Council.

Mike Denness

The company's website shows the following information about Mike Denness, mentioning his councillor role:


"Mike brings a wealth of experience to Local Dialogue, furthered by his role as a local Councillor and Chair of a Planning Committee on the south coast."
Attempts by Conservative opposition councillor Jeremy Moulton to ask questions of Councillor Denness at yesterday's Full Council meeting of all councillors were stopped by the Mayor of the Council who chaired the meeting. The Mayor gave the reason given by the Council's Monitoring Officer Richard Ivory that an investigation was being conducted.

Councillor Moulton raised the complaint about Mike Denness.

Southampton Independents Councillor for Redbridge Andrew Pope said today, Thursday 21st September:

Councillor Andrew Pope

"I am not surprised that Mike Denness is under investigation. 
I raised concerns about Councillor Denness and conflicts of interest in Full Council in 2015, having previously taken those concerns to the Labour Group Whip Councillor John Noon and Labour Group Leader Councillor Simon Letts in 2014.  
I also raised concerns with the same Monitoring Officer (the Council's officer Richard Ivory) in 2015 and at a Planning Meeting chaired by Mike Denness.
Action was taken in 2014, but it didn't go far enough. And no action was taken when I raised those concerns repeatedly in 2015. 
Many residents have remarked to me that they believe it is wrong for a Chair of a Planning Committee to preside over decisions that could involve developers and organisations that Councillor Denness may know from his business contacts. 
This was especially the case in the highly controversial Test Lane development, which Southampton Independents fiercely resisted with local residents. 
The Labour Council and Labour-controlled Planning Committee that Councillor Denness chaired sold the land and gave planning permission on it. They ignored the concerns of Redbridge residents.
I understand from the Lidl public meeting that Councillor Denness used his business contact details for his councillor role. 
And I understand from local media contacts that Councillor Letts has already admonished Councillor Denness. 
Yet Councillor Letts sought to defend Councillor Denness in yesterday's Full Council meeting when questions were attempted to be asked. It seemed that the entire Labour Group of councillors wished to defend Councillor Denness too. 
They must be under pressure. I've seen this pressure put on councillors before, under former Councillor Williams** when I was a Labour Councillor. I resigned from Labour in 2015 and became an Independent because of the way Labour operates in Southampton.
It is right that Councillor Denness is under investigation.
When the Leader of Southampton Independents Denise Wyatt asked for Councillor Letts to be investigated by the same Monitoring Officer, Councillor Denness was heavily depended upon for Councillor Letts' defence.
Denise Wyatt will be asking for Councillor Letts' investigation to be re-opened in the light of the current investigation into Councillor Denness."
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Notes:

*Prior to joining Labour, Councillor Denness was a former long-term member of the Conservative Party and former agent for Basingstoke Conservative MP Maria Miller.

** These investigations into Labour councillors come four years after former Labour Leader of Southampton City Council Richard Williams resigned as Leader and as a councillor in 2013 following a lengthy investigation, and comments in the Daily Echo newspaper from his Deputy Leader Councillor Jacqui Rayment that "he probably wants to rule the world".

Councillor Rayment was cited in the same investigation as former Councillor Williams, but she did not resign.

Councillor Letts became the Leader after Richard Williams resigned, following a temporary appointment of Councillor Rayment as Leader.



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