Thursday 16th August 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

From Scarborough Town Hall, With Anger

  • 22nd Feb 2013 – Private Eye Rotten Boroughs (1334) Publishes ‘Moor The Merrier’ about Tim Lawn’s possible £2.5 million gains from the York Potash mine
  • 8th Mar 2013 – ‘From York Potash, With Love’ published about theatre tickets gifted to Tim Lawn from a York Potash director
  • 12th March 2013 – Complaint sent to Lisa Dixon (SBC) about Tim Lawn’s conduct whilst a Scarborough Borough Councillor
  • 18th March 2013 – Tim Lawn resigns from Scarborough Borough Council
  • 20th March 2013 – Tim Lawn’s Scarborough Borough Council Register of Interests changed to add ‘Hollybush Minerals Ltd’ to his Interests
  • 21st March 2013 – Reminder email sent to Lisa Dixon asking if the complaint email is being acted upon
  • 28th March 2013 – Legal Letters received by Tim Thorne, Tim Hicks, Nigel Ward & Glenn Kilpatrick sent by Lisa Dixon Scarborough Borough Council, alleging libel and criminal acts

As regular readers will know, Registers of Interest are always intriguing reading, but sometimes the full facts are obscured as relevant information is often altered, omitted or even added at a later date.

There are some rather curious changes to Tim Lawn’s Register of Interests. Why curious? Because information was added to his Register of Interests two days after he had resigned.

A company, Hollybush Minerals Ltd, 08242606, was added to his Register of Interests on 20th March 2013. Information from Companies House indicates the company was formed on 5th October 2012.

Under the terms of the Localism Act 2011 this company should have been added to the Register of Interests no more than 28 days after it became a pecuniary interest. According to the Localism Act, Registers of Interest are the responsibility of the Authority Monitoring Officer. In the case of Scarborough Borough Council the Monitoring Officer is Lisa Dixon, Head of Legal and Democratic Services.

The statutory responsibilities of the Monitoring Officer are listed as follows:

  • complying with the law (including any relevant Codes of Conduct)
  • complying with any General Guidance issued, from time to time, by the Standards Committee and the Monitoring Officer
  • making lawful and proportionate decisions
  • generally, not taking action that would bring the Council, their offices or professions into disrepute

One wonders if it was a professional decision by Scarborough Borough Council’s Monitoring Officer to fail to respond in a timely fashion to a legitimate complaint about Tim Lawn’s conduct? I had to email my Ward Councillor to find out if the complaint had been accepted. One wonders if it was that email, or my stated intention to publish an article which mentions the complaint appears to have been ignored, which was the catalyst for a response.

I’m struggling greatly to grasp a reason for retrospectively adding Hollybush Minerals Ltd to Tim Lawn’s Register of Interest two days after he had resigned. Having looked at the Localism Act it could be construed that an offence was committed under the terms of the Act. Are the changes, which are strictly controlled by the Monitoring Officer, a feeble attempt to cover up criminality? If not, what is the reason for the retrospective changes?

Given the strict rules on declarations, the changes to the Register of Interests may be irrelevant, given that Hollybush Minerals Ltd was added to the Register over five months after the company was formed. We must assume that Lisa Dixon likely knows the Localism Act well and recognises that an offence may have taken place. Has she complied with her statutory responsibilities? Has she reported the offence to the Police? If not, why not?

I did notice another odd thing with Tim Lawn’s Register of Interests. The Theatre Tickets gifted to him, which were the subject of the York Potash, With Love article, were not listed on his current Register of Interests. They were removed from the Register, which is strictly controlled by the Monitoring Officer, on the 1st October 2012. There doesn’t appear to be any logical reason to remove the entry from the Register, given the on-going Planning Application at the North York Moors National Park Authority that has been receiving so much focus. Why was this pertinent piece of information removed on the 1st October 2012, under the auspices of the Monitoring Officer?

Are the retrospective changes and removal of pertinent information, which is strictly controlled by the Monitoring Officer, a feeble attempt to cover up criminality? I think we should be told!

Article first posted to Real Whitby on April 2 2013.

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