A SENIOR councillor has been reprimanded for “forgetting” to mention she was a member of a conservation group during a vote rejecting a housing development.

Oxford City Council’s Delia Sinclair was on a committee that threw out a plan for six homes to the back of houses in Quarry High Street in January.

Ms Sinclair did declare a ‘personal interest’ by telling January’s planning committee meeting that her niece lived near the proposed development.

But a standards committee found she should have declared a ‘prejudicial interest’ in regard to her niece.

It was also found that she should have declared a separate ‘personal interest’ because she was a member of the Friends of Quarry conservation group, which opposed the scheme.

However, the council’s standards committee refused to impose sanctions over the breaches, saying the Quarry And Risinghurst member made a “genuine error”.

Rupert Stephens, one of the developers, reported Ms Sinclair, saying: “Such blatant disregard for the rules and public accountability cannot be allowed to go unmentioned.”

Council lawyer Victoria Fennell investigated and said Ms Sinclair was “so anxious” to declare an interest over her niece – who she knew had raised traffic concerns – that she “forgot” about her Friends of Quarry membership.

She said: “I do not think any of it was malicious. I think it was an honest mistake.”

Her errors were due to a “lack of knowledge” about prejudicial interests, Ms Fennell said.

A personal interest is where a councillor or their close friends or family are affected by a plan.

A prejudicial interest is where that personal interest is “likely to prejudice” their decision. Ms Sinclair told the standards committee: “I find it really important I am thorough, methodical and do my work to the best of my ability and I failed on this occasion and I would like to apologise.”

She said she was not in regular contact with the Friends, did not speak to members before the January hearing and declared membership on the council’s public register of interests before the decision.

Committee chairman John Lay said: “We accept that councillor Sinclair has acknowledged she made a genuine error.”

Her integrity was “not in doubt”, he added.

The standards committee did not back Mr Stephens’ claim that Ms Sinclair did not attend the January 18 meeting of the north-east area committee with an “open mind”.

Mr Stephens said: “It was more about protecting the interests of future applicants.”

He lost a planning appeal over the plan .

Ms Sinclair, who has been on the council for nine years, said: "I am relieved.

“I'm just sorry that I made the errors, I just need to get my confidence back."

She said of residents in her ward: "I'm sure they will be disappointed but I think they know me well enough to understand."