Embattled politician vows to contest by-election

Steve Jones
Steve Jones

An independent politician at the centre of a fierce row with the council over his resignation has vowed to contest an upcoming by-election.

Steve Jones, whose status as an elected representative is currently in dispute, has said he will be standing next month to take the seat he still regards as his.

Wigan Council said he had resigned as a councillor on January 5 and published a notice of casual vacancy, with a date of February 22 for the vote announced at the full council meeting on Wednesday.

However, Coun Jones says he only gave indication that he intended to resign on February 20 and the town hall has wrongly pushed him out.

He says that standing for next month’s ballot is not an admission that the local authority is right but feels he should take part.

He said: “If the council goes ahead with this by-election then I will definitely be standing for what I rightly believe is my seat.

“I’ve changed my mind on resigning because of the support I’ve got. I’ve had personal problems but I’ve dealt with them and I’m feeling great.

“I think we can show a real statement to Wigan Council if we can win this by-election.”

Wigan Council leader Lord Smith, meanwhile, has launched a furious attack on him, saying a police caution for common assault made him “unfit for public office”.

Greater Manchester Police reprimanded a 30-year-old man from Old Road in Ashton on January 4 for the offence following an investigation launched on December 23.

Lord Smith said: “I advise Steve Jones to take a step away from public life and to sort his personal issues out for his own and his family’s sake.

“The people of Bryn need a councillor who will be able to dedicate all their energy into supporting the community.

“Anyone who carries out an act of common assault is clearly unfit to stand as a councillor and I urge him to reconsider standing in the by-election.

“We need role models as councillors.”

The town hall says legislation supports its decision to accept Coun Jones’ resignation last week, claiming a notice to step down is effective as soon as it is given.

However, there appears to be a grey area in section 84 of the Local Government Act 1972 which seems to assume that elected representatives will quit with immediate effect, saying nothing about a future date being suggested.

A by-election is triggered from a notice of casual vacancy if the town hall receives two signatures from two electors, with the vote having to happen within 35 working days.