Minister criticised in planning scandal

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The Welsh cabinet minister for Local Government, Peter Law, broke the national code of conduct when he was a councillor in Blaenau Gwent, says a report by the Ombudsman.

The Welsh cabinet minister for Local Government, Peter Law, broke the national code of conduct when he was a councillor in Blaenau Gwent, says a report by the Ombudsman.

In his 1992 report, Elwyn Moseley, the Ombudsman for Wales, "severely criticised" Mr Law, now 52, for failing to declare his interest when he opposed a plan to create a "green belt" area on land he owned. The plan was defeated and the first batch of 46 homes are now being built on the site near Ebbw Vale.

The Ombudsman said that he believed that Mr Law was solely responsible for overturning a council plan to make the beauty spot near Brynmawr a protected "special landscape area" to restrict development. The site had been shown in the council's own tourist brochures as a local attraction.

But as result of Mr Law's actions it is to become "one of the biggest single private housing developments ever undertaken within the Council's area".

The Tory leader in the Welsh Assembly, Nick Bourne, said: "I am astounded by the revelations that Peter Law was named and shamed for failing to declare an interest.The fact that Assembly Members were unaware of this raises serious questions as to why this was kept extremely quiet."

Mr Law said yesterday: "I accepted that I had made an error of judgement and I did express my regret and apologies to the council." He claimed at the time that he had made a "procedural error".

Mr Law claimed that he had only spoken at council meetings about a farmland area on the opposite side of the valley, in which he did not have an interest, and not about his own area. The Ombudsman said that there was no record of this distinction being made.

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