DCSIMG

Porn councillor is blasted during ‘atrocious’ meeting

Cllr Robert Bleakley

Cllr Robert Bleakley

WIGAN’S council leader launched a stinging criticism of member behaviour and said one colleague “should have resigned”.

Lord Smith’s comments came as the local authority’s standards committee report was presented before full council this week, detailing what chairman Coun Charles Rigby called a “difficult year”.

In 2013/14, the cost of dealing with complaints against councillors trebled to £78,000 with 27 cases, the report said.

Even before the findings were up for discussion, the meeting had been thrown into disarray with one councillor ejected for disobeying instructions not to tweet during proceedings.

But Lord Smith reserved his strongest condemnation for former Liberal Democrat representative Robert Bleakley, found guilty by his peers earlier this year of using his council equipment to access porn.

Lord Smith said: “This is a horrible case involving extreme pornography. This was done using council provided facilities at the council tax payer’s expense. If this had been done by a member of staff we would have immediately sacked them. He should have resigned but he has not. We need to get the people of Tyldesley to understand, to make a proper judgement in the future.”

Coun Bleakley, who was not present at the meeting, has since become an independent representative having resigned from the Lib-Dems.

Coun Terry Halliwell quoted Coun Bleakley: “This is nothing more than a vendetta against me and a continuation of the politically-motivated bullying and harassment of opposition councillors by certain officers and some Labour councillors.”

But Labour member Coun Halliwell said: “If we understand this right, we bullied him into accessing porn on his computer. What do we do, faced with that? We have to look at ways for people in this council to follow the code of conduct and make them aware that this behaviour is not acceptable.”

Several opposition councillors had already left the meeting in protest after Standish independent Gareth Fairhurst was escorted from the meeting by police officers for tweeting. And Hindley Green independent Bob Brierley left minutes later after a dispute with chief executive Donna Hall.

Lord Smith said: “In my long career, this has been the most atrocious meeting I have seen.”

 
 
 

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