A BUCKINGHAMSHIRE councillor could be seen smiling as a colleague ‘stormed out’ of a virtual meeting having challenged him on an alleged personal interest.

Cllr Marten Clarke withdrew from a West Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee, broadcast on Tuesday, January 5, after fellow Conservative Cllr Chris Whitehead ‘insulted his integrity’.

Cllr Whitehead asked chairperson Cllr Julia Adey whether Cllr Clarke should have declared an interest because the ward member challenging the planning application was his wife, Cllr Lesley Clarke.

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Cllr Mrs Clarke asked that plans to alter a residential property on Shelley Road, in High Wycombe, be refused for its “dominating” size and impact on the street scene.

She also called it “overbearing”, adding: “There are a number of neighbours who are worried by the size of this proposed extension.”

When the matter of Cllr Mr Clarke’s alleged personal interest was pressed, he made the decision to quickly leave the broadcast.

“This is the second time my integrity has been impugned at this meeting,” said Cllr Mr Clarke. “I am a justice of the peace and have been obliged to take a decision based on the evidence presented to me.

“I feel that this is an insult to my integrity and therefore I resign from the committee forthwith.”

Cllr Whitehead could be seen smiling during Cllr Mr Clarke’s statement.

Bucks Free Press:

Cllr Mrs Clarke replied: “I find it quite insulting that people seem to think that I have that hold over my husband – I only wish I had, because I can assure you I do not.

“I do find that insulting, that…because I have brought something to committee that my husband will automatically support me.

“I do find that quite hard to accept. There are a number of times when we had discussions about this, and I think that I’ve been a councillor long enough to know what I think.

“I am supporting the people I represent and like Marten, I feel that is an insult to my integrity too.”

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Seeking to bring some order, Cllr Sarfaraz Raja said: “I would say to my colleagues – just calm down, take it easy. If somebody asks that question…other people will be asking that question.

“We have to ask those awkward questions and we just need an answer. It’s not personal…it’s what we as ward members are expected to ask.”

Bucks Free Press:

The planning application, brought by Mr Ansar Chaudry, was unanimously approved.

He hopes to construct a single-storey front, and part-single-part-two-storey side and rear extension to his property, plus a loft conversion which would create a five-bedroom home. Three parking spaces are also mentioned, as is loss of a garage.

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