Sue’s a maverick politician.1 She was a Conservative elected in May, 2022 and joined HRA2 four months later. Conservative voters thought they’d ousted Resident Association councillors but Sue was Conservative in name only. Despite voting for change, Conservatives now continue to have Residents’ Association councillors.
Sue’s a maverick in other ways too. Her Register of Interests document is blank, simply signed at the bottom. The Register is a legal requirement, which must be filled in within in 28 days of an election. The question is, does a blank answer constitute ‘an answer’?
Question One asks for, “Any employment, office, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain”. Sue’s left it blank but it’s a criminal offense to not ‘disclose a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’. Sue might be unemployed and living in a tent but she’s a councillor picking up £200 a week. £200 a week looks like a ‘gain’ to me. Sue’s blank ‘answer’ appears to be false.3
Question Two relates to Sponsorship which means ‘…financial benefit….towards your election expenses.’ There’s evidence that Sue had help with ‘election expenses’. Her fellow councillor, Jackie McArdle, declared assistance from the Conservative Party for election expenses.4 It’s unlikely the Conservatives discriminated against Sue. It’s possible this blank ‘answer’ could also be false.
Question Four relates to Land. I’d have thought Sue, as a middle-aged person living in a high home ownership area like Havering, did have an interest in property but there’s no evidence one way or the other. There’s no evidence for blank answers to Questions 3, 5, 6 and 7.
Section B Personal Interests is left blank, which is surprising considering her interest in allotments.
Being a maverick and defecting from one party to another without calling a by-election is one thing. Not fulfilling a legal obligation is dereliction of duty at the very least and calls into question her status as a councillor.
1 This is her Register of Interests document mgConvert2PDF.aspx (havering.gov.uk) Accessed 9th September 2022
2 HRA = Havering Residents’ Association
3 As is that of her fellow councillor Sarah Edwards who’s also left this question (and question two) blank.