Complaints over two Ripon councillors passed on to police

Pauline McHardy at the Full Council meeting on Monday - picture supplied by Alex Florence Photography
Pauline McHardy at the Full Council meeting on Monday - picture supplied by Alex Florence Photography

North Yorkshire Police are considering complaints against Coun Pauline McHardy and Coun Andrew Williams over their interest in the company Foss Islands Media.

Members of the public expressed concern that the company, which Coun Williams is a director of, was registered to the Mayor of Ripon’s address until it was changed in July.

Residents have raised concern over why neither councillor declared an interest in the company, including resident Darren Clare who wrote to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC).

Mr Clare raised issue that Coun Williams was under a ‘clear obligation’ to disclose his interest while Coun McHardy showed a ‘relationship’ to the company as her address was used as the company’s registered office.

Mr Clare also queried whether a ‘criminal offence’ may have been committed under the Localism Act 2011.

HBC confirmed the complaint had been passed on to police, in consistency with the council’s code of conduct for elected members which ‘sets out the arrangements for dealing with standards allegations under the Localism Act’.

An HBC spokesperson said: “Any complaint against elected members will be treated in confidence until the initial investigation is concluded.

At the Full Council meeting on Monday, residents again queried Coun McHardy about her and Coun Williams’ interest in the company.

Speaking at the meeting, one resident said: “If this was a dormant company, not trading why were the directors and the registered address changed. The fact that this significant activity took place on or around July 5 this year contradicts the fact that it was a dormant company.

“Coun Williams has still not answered the question from the last meeting as to why it was it registered to Coun McHardy’s home address or had her consent.

“Did you realise this company was registered to your home address, if so was it done with your consent if not would you not have issue with this?”

Coun McHardy said she stood by her comment made in the Gazette on Thursday, August 6, adding that she had ‘nothing further’ to say.

On August 6, Coun McHardy was quoted as saying she had not failed to register an interest in the company for the ‘simple reason’ that she had no interest to declare. She said at that time that if anyone wished to pursue the issue with Standards, they could do .