Saturday, May 23, 2009

Leicestershire County Council refers conduct of Tory deputy leader to police

From the Leicester Mercury:

Police have been called in to look into alleged dirty tricks relating to the upcoming county elections.

Leaked e-mails show that County Hall deputy leader Nicholas Rushton offered a pre-election deal to get a rival candidate to stand down in the Valley division in North West Leicestershire.

For two years, a legal row between the council and community has been ongoing over the use of Hardulph's Primary School, in Breedon on the Hill, as a community centre.

Villager Simon Jones decided to stand as an independent in the June 4 elections because he believed that Coun Rushton had not represented the area properly on the issue.

As a result of this challenge, several e-mails show that Coun Rushton said he would guarantee a new village hall, and this would happen if Mr Jones pulled out of the election, which he did.

The newspaper goes on to say:

An arrangement was drafted by Mr Jones' election team to be signed by him and councillors Parsons and Rushton.

But when he saw the agreement, Coun Parsons said he would not sign it.
He took it to chief executive of the council John Sinnott and once the authority looked at it they referred the agreement to the police.

Simon Galton, an old colleague of mine from Harborough District council and now leader of the Lib Dem group on the county, is quoted as saying:

"Prior to this meeting [a special cabinet held on 22 May], the Liberal Democrat group were extremely concerned that the Conservative administration were intending to allocate money contrary to the agreed council budget.

"It would be completely wrong for the Conservative administration to provide a community building in one community to ensure the re-election of the sitting Conservative councillor."

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