Controversial councillor to step down

Coun Robert Bleakley
Coun Robert Bleakley
  • Coun Robert Bleakley is not standing for re-election
  • Controversial councillor has resisted several calls to resign
  • His latest four-year term has been littered with scandals

One of the most controversial terms of office in the history of Wigan Council has come to an end.

Coun Robert Bleakley has not submitted papers for re-election before Thursday’s deadline meaning his tenure as an elected member will finish next month.

Speculation has been rife about whether the former Liberal Democrat - dubbed the UK’s worst councillor - would put himself forward to the electorate again.

Wigan Today can confirm his name will not appear on any of the electoral lists.

Coun Bleakley’s latest term has been littered with several major scandals and he has resisted numerous calls to resign because of his behaviour.

Late last year the independent representative was told he will not face disciplinary proceedings having been accused of making “vile” comments to police officers regarding murdered GMP officers Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone.

Coun Bleakley denied making the comments although a council investigation concluded that he had although in doing so he was not acting as a councillor.

In 2014 he racked up a £2,000 bill on his council phone accessing sex chat-lines, was found to have accessed pornographic material on his council laptop and had sent lewd and sexist messages.

In one such message a town hall investigation revealed he said women were “just cooking and washing material.”

Council chief executive Donna Hall said she was “appalled and sickened” and female officers were instructed not to speak to the under-fire elected member.

Coun Bleakley, who denied the allegations of sexism and has maintained he is the victim of a witch-hunt from the ruling Labour council and officers, suffered a stroke last year which his supporters attributed to the pressure he was being placed under.

He recovered sufficiently to attend council meetings last year but was called the country’s “most expensive councillor” for his poor attendance rate by leader Lord Smith.

Coun Bleakley’s current attendance rate according to Wigan Council’s website for the last 12 months stands at 33 per cent.

Wigan Today has contacted Coun Bleakley about his intentions leading up to the deadline for re-election but has received no response.