TWO councillors who formed a company to help reopen a recycling centre have been reported to the council for an alleged ‘breach in conduct’.

Mrs Marjorie Gullett, of Bledlow Ridge, complained to Buckinghamshire Council about Cllrs Bill Bendyshe-Brown and Carl Etholen, demanding they apologise for “commenting on their own planning application”.

The men formed a Community Interest Company (CIC), in August 2019, “as a vehicle to drive a planning application forward” to reopen Bledlow Ridge Household Recycling Centre after its closure in March of the same year.

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The planning application was submitted by architects Wolstenholme Ltd with support by the Bledlow Ridge HRC Community Interest Company (the CIC), and with Cllr Bendyshe-Brown as the “appellant”, said Cllr Etholen.

Bucks Free Press:

PICTURED: Cllrs Bill Bendyshe-Brown (RIGHT) and Carl Etholen

Both men are directors of the CIC, as are Cllrs Robin Thomas and Tony Lord. “These are all voluntary roles which do not have any pecuniary benefits,” said Cllr Etholen.

The men said they formed the vehicle company after ‘more than 4,500 residents opposed the closure’.

Once reopened, “the CIC would go out to tender for an operator to work on a sub-contract basis,” they said.

Both men have the support of a 12-person action committee, populated with elected members from as many town and parish councils.

The planning application was due for determination in March 2020 but was deferred due to the pandemic, Cllr Etholen said.

“We have gone to appeal for non-determination,” he added.

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Cllr Etholen said were permission granted, the men would still need to apply to the Environment Agency (EA) for a licence.

Bucks Free Press:

PICTURED: Bledlow Ridge Household Recycling Centre

In her complaint, Mrs Gullett claims Cllr Bendyshe-Brown “should have recused himself” from commenting on the application, adding he “proceeded unchallenged and unchallengeable to disseminate his misinformation”.

Mrs Gullett also claims Cllr Etholen ‘failed to register his interest for eight months’, all the while “militating for approval of the application”.

She also said though the CIC was formed in August 2019, Cllr Etholen ‘only registered his interest in March 2020’.

Mrs Gullett said she wants “both councillors to apologise publicly, and to recuse themselves from any more involvement with this application”.

She added: “I would like them to advise the statutory consultees of their involvement in the promotion of this initiative. I want the statutory consultants to withdraw and reconsider their advice in view of this perversion of process.”

In response, Cllr Etholen said: “With regard to me making a personal apology, I do not believe that it is necessary as I had registered my interest as a director of the CIC whilst a district councillor on the former Wycombe District Council and then again on the new Buckinghamshire Council.

“When [Mrs Gullett says] that Cllr Bendyshe-Brown should have recused himself from comment on this application, it is the right of all appellants to make any comments in support of their application so again there should be no need of an apology.”

Buckinghamshire Council declined to comment.

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