A COUNCIL has refused to answer questions regarding rumours its chairman stands to make money off a proposed housing development, while an investigation is carried out.

A complaint has been filed against Dodderhill Parish Council (DPC) chairman Alyson Keane in relation to her alleged involvement in a plan for 33 homes in Chequers Lane, which the council voted against.

Councillor Keane was absent at a meeting of DPC on Monday (April 1) and it was made clear to members of the public, as it was in March, that no questions relating to the complaint would be answered.

Stand-in chairman Doug Webb stressed the council’s stance was taken based on advice from Wychavon District Council [WDC], which is undertaking the investigation, in case the proceedings are prejudiced.

District and county councillor Peter Tomlinson informed former parish councillor and Chequers Lane resident Peter Evans that the “questions themselves would be frowned upon” if he asked them.

Mr Evans argued the questions would not interfere with the investigation and denied Cllr Tomlinson’s suggestion that his name was attached to one of the complaints made.

He added that, if his name was associated with any complaints, there was “potential corruption” involved, and emphasised this was the third monthly meeting he’d attempted to ask the questions.

Mr Evans said the questions were “nothing personal” but do relate to “conduct in public office” of Cllr Keane as chairman.

He argued that as the investigations had been ongoing for at least a month surely they “can’t be that convoluted that a decision can’t be reached by now”.

Going on to ask the questions, he said: “Is the chairman to benefit personally in a direct financial manner from the proposed housing development? The plans for which have been rejected by DPC [at a public meeting in January].”

If no were the answer, he said he would not ask any more questions on the matter.

However, if the answer was yes, he would have said: “Any individual has the right to strike any agreement he or she wishes. The issue is whether that agreement is transparent and not in conflict with the role of chair of the parish council.”

He went on to say: “It’s not personal and it’s important councillors, especially the chair, represent the community and not themselves.

“Next question. By now, I have received [hypothetically] a yes. At what point in the planning process did the benefit become potential? Was it before, during or very recent? Was any other property owner given the opportunity to debate it?”

Cllr Webb stopped him going any further and said he believed the discussion had now “crossed the point where that may impact on any investigation” and the WDC monitoring officer would be informed.

Council clerk Nick Farress said, regarding financial benefit: “[Hypothetically] as long as a councillor was not involved in the decision by this council to support or reject an application, which I believe was the case, the process was correctly applied.”

He said it is a “private matter between that councillor and the developer”.

Asked by Mr Evans if his questions would be included in the meeting minutes, Mr Farress said: “The subject matter will be minuted, yes.”

WDC’s investigation also relates to Cllr Keane’s alleged conduct towards members of the village hall committee.