A COUNCIL chairman’s proposal to manage building works at a village hall has been called a “huge conflict of interest” by committee members, who have also questioned an invoice for outstanding funds.

Two complaints have been filed against Dodderhill Parish Council (DPC) chairman Alyson Keane – relating to her alleged involvement in a proposed housing development and her conduct towards Wychbold Village Hall committee members.

Wychavon District Council (WDC) is carrying out an investigation into the complaints and DPC refused to answer related questions at public meetings in March and then last Monday (April 1).

We can reveal, minutes for a village hall committee meeting in October 2018 refer to a proposal made by Cllr Keane to manage hall building works under her business.

“She would want 10 per cent in return for the work,” the minutes said. “The committee thought the management proposal, whilst very useful, is a huge conflict of interest. The committee felt this would put the charity at risk and equally AK [Cllr Keane].”

The minutes go on to say, the committee had even “discussed the idea” of Cllr Keane “standing down from any official duties in order to provide this service”.

“[Cllr Keane] has a massive amount of intelligence that no other contractor would have.

“The committee have asked if [Cllr Keane] can provide more information on this, more specifically any legal issues and potential impact on the charity.”

According to the minutes, committee chairman Adam Joynes “also acknowledged, whilst [Cllr Keane] has [done] all this work voluntarily, he couldn’t blame her for wanting some form of payment.

“The committee, however, finds the whole idea very uncomfortable and worry about what local residents might think.”

At a full council meeting in February, the council agreed to recover £2,700 in expenses it believes it’s owed by the village hall committee.

Cllr Keane said the committee broke a 'gentleman’s agreement' in which the council would only pay fees “while they got themselves in order” following a handover period from different leadership.

In draft minutes for a village hall committee meeting in February, the invoice was disputed as was the gentleman’s agreement.

The minutes said the hall was managed by DPC during most of the time for the invoice and “should have been administered through the village hall accounts”.

It claims many items on the invoice are “unrelated to the village hall accounts” including repair work, and gas and broadband bills.

As we’ve previously reported, resident Peter Evans questioned whether Cllr Keane stood to make any financial gains out of a proposed development in Chequers Lane.

He said: “The issue is whether that agreement is transparent and not in conflict with the role of chair of the parish council.”

Meesha Patel, WDC monitoring officer who is undertaking the investigation, said: “We can confirm we have received two complaints regarding alleged breaches of the Member Code of Conduct by Cllr Keane.

“Cllr Keane is currently unable to answer questions regarding the complaint for unavoidable personal reasons but has indicated she will do so as soon as she is able to.

“Once this has taken place a decision will be taken on whether or not to proceed with a full investigation.

“There is no timetable for when this stage of the process may be completed and no further information will be given at this time.”

DPC clerk Nick Farress said the invoicing issue is not related to the investigation and will be resolved in due course.

Referring to Cllr Keane’s works proposal, he said no work has yet been carried out and once outline plans and funding have been agreed, a tendering process will take place – most likely in 2020.