Anyone elected onto North Yorkshire Council should declare if they are a member of secretive Freemason organisations, a councillor has claimed.
Masonic lodges have operated for centuries and give millions to charity every year. However, they have long faced accusations of nepotism in fields such as business and the law.
All councillors must declare, in a register of interests, if they are part of organisations such as political parties or charities.
But according to the council’s code of conduct, councillors only have to declare themselves a Freemason if they are part of a lodge’s charitable arm.
Monika Slater, Liberal Democrat councillor for Bilton Grange & New Park, said the code of conduct was “wrong” because she believes that Freemasons pledge an allegiance to the organisation they’re in “above all else”.
She added that members of staff working for the council must declare all memberships related to Freemasons, unlike councillors.
Cllr Slater said:
“Surely that’s of interest to residents if they are a member of a lodge. If officers need to declare it why don’t members as well? It doesn’t feel right.”
North Yorkshire Council’s assistant chief executive Barry Khan addressed Cllr Slater’s request at a meeting in Northallerton last week.
He promised officers will produce a report that looks into whether councillors should declare if they are a Freemason.
Mr Khan said:
“The position under the previous code in regards to masonic lodges was if a member was involved with the charitable arm then they were a member of a charity and that would be registered. If it wasn’t a charitable arm, then the advice was that that it didn’t need to be registered.
“That’s been the position that has carried on [into the new council].
“However, I think there’s been some concern from members that this process should be open and transparent and all memberships should be declared. We’ll bring a report that discusses these issues and a further recommendation will go to full council.”