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Call to reveal Gloucestershire councillor links to "secret societies"

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 15, 2012

  • Freemasons

  • Stan Waddington

  • Brian Tipper

  • Terry Glastonbury

  • David Cooksley

  • Chaz Fellows

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COUNTY councillors have been challenged to reveal their membership of private organisations such as the Freemasons.

Shire Hall Lib Dem group leader Jeremy Hilton (Westgate) called on all members to declare their interests publicly after a report about the Cotswold Water Park scandal highlighted the issue.

Last month Graham Garbutt, who wrote the report, highlighted failures in the council's systems, including confusion among members over whether to declare their membership to "secret societies".

Mr Hilton said connections to networking organisations such as the Freemasons could influence matters of public interest.

"This report has highlighted some serious concerns," he said. "I am, therefore, calling for it to be made a standard procedure that both officers and all elected members have a duty to declare that they are or have been members of secret societies like the Freemasons.

"Graham Garbutt's report brings to light the need for more transparency and tighter scrutiny procedures within Shire Hall. In my view, this needs to start happening now."

The Freemasons are a worldwide fraternity dedicated to charitable works. However, members usually keep their links to the organisation secret and carry out meetings in private in a ritualised format.

There are five Freemasons serving on Gloucestershire County Council, all of them are in the Conservative group.

They are councillors Brian Tipper (Cam and Dursley), Chaz Fellows (Chalford), Stan Waddington (Minchinhampton), Terry Glastonbury (West Dean) and David Cooksley (Lydney).

Each of them has declared the membership on the register of interests, in line with the authority's policy.

Mr Tipper said Mr Hilton's suggestion was unnecessary.

"I resent the way the Freemasons are being presented as a secret society," he said.

"We do a lot of charitable work and we do it in a modest way, so those who benefit don't know who has done it.

"All council members are well aware of the rules and I'm sure all of them who are members of such groups have already declared it."

Mr Garbutt is the independent author of a report being drawn up about Shire Hall's dealings with the Cotswold Water Park.

At an audit committee meeting last month he presented an interim verbal report, stating that his final report would include recommendations about declarations of interest relating to secret societies.

An investigation was called for after the £660,000 fraud carried out by Cotswold Water Park Ltd's chief executive Dennis Grant.

Conservatives yesterday accused Mr Hilton of carrying out a stunt to get his name in the paper.

Council leader Councillor Mark Hawthorne (C, Moreland) said: "There's nothing confusing about the rules on declaration of councillor's interests.

"All councillors are required to publicly declare on their register of interests if they are members of the Freemason's Grand Charity – which Conservatives councillors have always rigorously followed.

"I think there is cause for concern if the Liberal Democrats are admitting that they do not understand the rules that apply on this important issue."

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  • Jahbulon_fr33  |  February 20 2012, 1:36AM

    Freemason charity is a myth. If you visit the home page for United Grand Lodge of England, http://tinyurl.com/7dpypf6 you can click on charitable work, and discover Freemasons channel their charitable efforts through 4 charities, and if you click the eligibility requirements for each of those so called charities, you will see that they all restrict their help to Freemasons, former Freemasons and close dependents of Freemasons. For most of us, charity means giving to others, for Freemasons, charity means manipulating tax laws so they can give more to themselves. Freemasonry abuses the meaning of words.

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  • s14t871  |  February 16 2012, 8:35PM

    I wonder if the couple whose dog savaged the lady and scarred her for life and got away with nothing more than to be told they should muzzle the dog are a member of the masons or some other secret society . Certainly looks to me as if there was some strings pulled for some one .

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  • Wally37  |  February 16 2012, 7:19PM

    Yes they do charitable work but that is not their reason for existence. It provides a smoke screen for their real activities. Any civilian voluntary organisation that has to keep itself secret has something to hide. I have witnessed a freemason accused by two women of bullying and inappropriate sexual behaviour at work; they made their allegations to his line manager who is also a freemason. He was suspended, investigated and acquitted. There being no case to answer. He was also suspended in the 1990's for a far more serious allegation again he was investigated and acquitted by his line managers who were freemasons. Very recently he was accused of racism at work. Yes you can guess what happened? Yes he was again investigated by a freemason and again acquitted. His nickname is Teflon, because whatever he does, he is always acquitted and nothing sticks.

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  • Hubert1841  |  February 16 2012, 4:39PM

    Wouldn't trust one of these bounders pictured, what? They all look like the sort to get young ladies in trouble, and steal sweets from children. They'd probably pinch your last cigarette, and not stand a round, too. Never trust a fully grown man who dresses up in a silly costume with other like-minded men, whilst indulging in rolling up trouser legs, silly handshakes and political, economical and social skulduggery.

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  • Dave_Kemp  |  February 16 2012, 12:26PM

    Chris, section 61 of Magna Carta refers to no-one being above the law, not even the monarch. I don't see where it refers to Council Tax or anything like it. Whatever you think your point may be, you're way off beam. Coouncil tax is the law and refusal to pay can lead to a prison sentence. Personally I prefer to pay it.

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  • QuedCynic  |  February 16 2012, 10:35AM

    Perhaps the ever-hypocritical Mr Hilton should ensure that his own party members, in particular a very prominent Liberal Democrat member of Gloucester City Council, should also declare their membership of the Freemason's Grand Charity, which he has not. He has nothing to be ashamed of as membership of this very worthwhile organisation demonstrates a charitable inclination and it is in no way a 'sinister' organisation as Mr Hilton seems to portray.

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  • TimGlos  |  February 16 2012, 12:45AM

    Chris, surely the closure of Libraries would have been mandated by elected representatives? If so then it would be a matter of public record?

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  • Colin_Cringe  |  February 15 2012, 8:46PM

    "NO ONE CAN BE FORCED TO PAY COUNCIL TAX Tell that to the judge on your way down the steps.

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  • chrisrainbow  |  February 15 2012, 8:39PM

    The council have refused to answer one simple question. WHO AUTHORISED THE CLOSURE OF OUR LIBRARIES? its a very simple question...but then these people are cowards.they hide behind a silly questionaire..which they know can be manipulated to fit whatever their need.which has obviusly been set by some beaurocrats with overinlated egos who would be better off dictating orders in a totalitarian state.all to enable them to break the law .BUT IF WE TAKE THESE DICTATORS TO COURT THEY WILL BE LIABLE FOR COSTS....come on obey the law

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  • Bonkim2003  |  February 15 2012, 6:47PM

    In theory each one of us has affiliations to religious, sectarian, or cultural organisations, affinity groups, professional, and trade association, sexual and other behavioural orientations, etc, etc, formal, declared, or not, which influence our view of life and how we want to shape the society we live in. In a democratic system, it is the plurality of such associations that determine decisions - what is wrong with that?

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