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COUNCILLOR OUSTED OVER MASSIVE EXPENSES

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A member of Essex CC has been removed from the police authority after claiming thousands of pounds for hundreds of ...
A member of Essex CC has been removed from the police authority after claiming thousands of pounds for hundreds of visits to police stations.

After a lengthy investigation, Gerard Rice has been ousted as a representative on the Essex county police authority.

Mr Rice, who was variously chairman and vice-chairman of the former County Police Committee, has always maintained that the expenses he charged were fully justified.

His total claims under the lay visiting scheme and for other duties for 1992-93 were £7,189, and for 1993-94 were £17,114.

No breakdown was given for 1994-95, but five members were reported to have made 589 visits, of which 506 were by Mr Rice.

Mr Rice said he made his visits to the custody areas of police stations in good faith because few other members would make such visits, even though he had tried to persuade them to do so.

A report to Essex CC's policy and resources committee - by the council's National Code of Local Government Conduct Panel - noted that although the expenses Mr Rice claimed were lawful, the code of conduct laid down that: 'It is not enough to avoid actual impropriety. You should at all times avoid any occasion for suspicion and any appearance of improper conduct.'

The vote endorsing the recommendation was 24:4 at the committee's meeting on 16 April. Mr Rice remains as one of the full council's 35 Labour members.

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