A South Hams District Councillor has apologised after breaking the Council’s Code of Conduct when she organised a one-off collection of brown bin garden waste in Woolwell.

Conservative Councillor Nicky Hopwood was told that despite her actions being well-intentioned she was likely to have bought the council into disrepute and had acted against the decision of the Executive and the requirements over the use of her Locality Budget.

She spent £3105 from the budget to arrange for the collection using a private contractor.

Councillor Hopwood said: “Members and officers may be aware that I organised a collection of brown bins within the Woolwell Ward which I represent.

“I sought officer advice about paying for this to be done out of my Locality budget after misunderstanding the advice given and went ahead with what I had organised in all good faith. 

“I have since been contacted by the Monitoring Officer and subsequently met with him. He advises that not only was the organising of waste collections within my Ward against what the Executive had agreed, which was to suspend the garden waste service, but I informed residents that this would be paid for out of my Locality Budget as I genuinely misunderstood the advice given by officers.

“I offer an unreserved apology to both officers and Members and have assured the monitoring officer that this will not happen again.”

On October 14 it was decided to suspend collections until Spring next year .

Councillor Hopwood said she would pay the £3105 from her own pocket.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Julian Brazil said: “We may be at opposite ends of the political spectrum but on a personal level I feel very sorry for Councillor Hopwood. She is a good person but unfortunately Councillors left themselves with nowhere to go over the issue.”

After the meeting Cllr Hopwood added: “Although I gave an unreserved apology, that was not good enough for the opposition. I felt backed into a corner and my only option was to either resign from the Council  or pay the bill for the garden waste collection. 

I have been a ward member for Woolwell for 20 years, I am passionate about my ward and the South Hams. The last thing I want to do is to let my residents down. My residents are my priority and therefore resigning is not an option for me, so I will pay the bill.”