Lincoln Nightclub events scheduled for Freedom Week 1

Every year, advisers find themselves on Santa’s coal recipient list, and 2021 was no exception.

From criminal activity to the upheaval of the opposition, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, these advisers couldn’t stay out of the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes wrongdoing results in suspensions, other times it’s an apology, and in one case it’s jail. Here are some of the misdeeds of this year’s most notable advisors.

Giles McNeill – West Lindsey District Council

Former West Lindsey District Council Chief Giles McNeill.

Former Tory Councilor and West Lindsey District Councilor Giles McNeill was jailed for 14 months in November after admitting eight charges of theft, fraud and forgery totaling £ 31,201.04 from his own party , over a period of six years.

Lincoln Crown Court has heard that McNeill deposited dozens of fraudulent checks into his own bank account and retained member payments from 22 fundraising events over a five-year period.

This included paying over £ 4,000, intended for constituency association coffers, into his own bank account the day after Boris Johnson was a guest speaker at a Conservative Party fundraiser in March 2018 .

During the interview, McNeill admitted that he started acting in 2013 and that it became acute in 2016 – but he also insisted that the others were happy that he was’ doing the donkey work. »And that he assumes no responsibility.

In passing sentence, Judge John Pini QC told McNeill his disgrace had been abrupt.

The judge said: “If the electorate cannot trust the elected, politics collapses. Your conduct has been a flagrant breach of trust for several years.

Mr McNeill resigned his post as head of council in September 2020, before the allegations came to light, and was subsequently removed from his chosen party role, but served as an independent in the ward until one month before his conviction.

In a by-election on December 16, his former seat in Nettleham went to Liberal Democrat candidate Jaime Oliver who won 51% of the vote. Mr. McNeill won in 2019 with just 27%.

Ian Stokes – South Kesteven District Council

Councilor Ian Stokes, former vice-chairman of South Kesteven District Council. | Photo: SKDC

South Kesteven District Councilor Ian Stokes resigned his post as deputy chairman of the authority in November after his use of the “n-word” in a public meeting sparked protests, calls for additional training and investigation into his conduct.

Councilor Stokes, who remains an independent adviser to the Peascliffe & Ridgeway, was caught on SKDC’s livestream when, in response to another round of comments, he said, speak up. “

He was then suspended from the Conservative Party in response to his comments.

Racism and equality activists immediately called for Councilor Stokes’ resignation. While councilor Amanda Wheeler renewed her calls for more equality and diversity training for members – especially after it was revealed that only a quarter of councilors have taken a voluntary diversity course. Some later claimed that they had taken training elsewhere.

A review of the code of conduct for his actions recommended several sanctions against Councilor Stokes, including asking him to apologize again and take training on equality and diversity.

The report, by surveillance officer Alan Robinson, says he broke the code of conduct and states: “Councilor Ian Stokes, in uttering the racist expression and connotations it represents, is [in] serious violation of this part of the code. His behavior is below the standards expected of anyone working in the public service.

“Further, the use of such a phrase conflicts with the Board’s Equality and Diversity Policy and the equality and diversity goals set out in the Board’s 2020-2023 Corporate Plan.”

Gary Hewson – Lincoln City Council

Gary Hewson – Work

A standards hearing at Lincoln City Council found Councilor Gary Hewson violated the authority’s code of conduct during telephone conversations with Resident Engagement Officer Chris Morton, in which he had attempted to get agents to visit local residents as part of a tour of his patch.

Boultham’s city councilor has been asked to offer a ‘heartfelt apology’ to Mr Morton and a request has been made to remove him from the performance and housing review subcommittees for the remainder of the year.

Mr Morton complained to Councilor Hewson following an inspection tour around Moorland and Boultham Park in August.

Boultham city councilor wanted to know when officers would visit the St Andrew’s Gardens area, but Mr Morton told him it was not on the road at the time.

Mr Morton said Councilor Hewson “got angry” – including threatening to go to the officer’s bosses and the press, as well as tell him he shouldn’t be at his house. work – before he can fix the problem.

Councilor Hewson then emailed the agent apologizing after the complaint was filed. However, Mr. Morton rejected the apology, believing it to be insincere.

Councilor Hewson admitted that he crossed a line in the words he used, however, he told the committee that he should also receive an apology because he believed the council officers themselves had badly done.

Paul Howitt-Cowan – West Lindsey District Council

Councilor Paul Howitt-Cowan.

Councilor Paul Howitt-Cowan was another adviser whose story began in 2020 but peaked in 2021.

Then the deputy head of West Lindsey District Council Councilor Howitt-Cowan left the Tories in February – although the method of his exit has been contested.

A statement from the Gainsborough Conservative Association said that a meeting of its executive council had made the decision to expel Councilor Paul Howitt-Cowan for his behavior – “acting in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of and the values ​​of the association and the party ”.

However, Hemswell’s city councilor himself said he resigned because he “lacked faith and confidence in his officers.”

The previous December he had been asked to apologize and censored by agents after he broke the code of conduct by telling residents that a homebuilder “might try to be mean” and encouraging them to spy on him.

Other allegations also surfaced that Councilor Howitt-Cowan had contacted a local person who kept him apprised of the development – however Councilor Howitt-Cowan denied sending him.

The email, seen by reporters at the time, included the line: “I knew that in time I would be vindicated, and now the WLDC has the evidence” and “the press crucified me. and my advice, as well as Giles who is innocent until proven otherwise ”.

In March Councilor Howitt-Cowan was replaced by Conservative Councilor Anne Welburn as Deputy Leader. He had been in this post for a little over three months.

He now sits on the board as an independent member.

Marianne Overton – North Kesteven District Council

Marianne Overton, one of the members of NK Independents. Photo: Daniel Jaines

Lincolnshire Independent Councilor Marianne Overton was probably not at the top of North Kesteven District Council chief Richard Wright’s Christmas list this year after accusing him of trying to silence her politically.

Councilor Overton, who oversees the Cliff Villages neighborhood of the NKDC, was asked to apologize to officers and issue a retraction after a standards committee found she had violated the District Council’s code of conduct by North Kesteven.

An independent investigation found that a bulletin published by Councilor Marianne Overton suggested that officers had acted illegally, suggesting that something “fishy” had happened and that council agents were not impartial.

They believed the report suggested there had been illegality – with wordings such as “reduced democratic representation”, “fewer votes” and “as long as democratic balance is maintained, as required by law”.

However, Councilor Overton and her defense counsel accused the investigation, triggered by a complaint filed by Conservative Council chief Richard Wright, of being an “abuse of process” to support “a politically motivated attack.”

They said it was “just a statement of fact” and that she had a reasonable factual basis for her belief “however narrow it is.”

The article focused on changes to the planning committee in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to online meetings.

The article was one of many articles in the newsletter about complaints received, but it was the only one to be confirmed, with the others rejected by the investigator.

An FOI from Local Democracy Reporters later revealed that the investigation had cost taxpayers nearly £ 18,000.

Alex Cox – Louth Councilor

Former Louth city councilor Alex Cox resigned in December.

Alex Cox resigned from the board earlier this month for “personal reasons.” He had formerly represented St Margaret’s Ward.

In August he was convicted of using threatening and abusive words outside Lacey Garden’s in Louth.

He was fined £ 80 and £ 119 in court costs and charges.

Court reports said Cox behaved erratically, screaming and cursing as parents dropped off their children, despite the school ban.

Police were called to the scene of the incident, but Cox continued, calling an officer a “pedophile” and cursing a teacher.

His own child was present and Cox told magistrates he “deeply regrets” for raising his voice.

He said he was protesting, believing his child and others had been subjected to “excessive force” by staff and was taking medication.

In his resignation statement, he said it was a decision taken “with a heavy heart” but that it would allow him to focus “on family and what is important in these difficult times.”

He called on the city council to work together to be a “light of hope”.

In other statements, he accused the government of wanting people “to fight for race, religion, sex and war and accused the media and tabloids of” pitting people against each other ” .

“This government likes us to choose sides. We shouldn’t argue about it or blame each other, ”he said.

“What’s important now is to put our families first and prepare for a more difficult and troubling world we live in, to do what is morally right and speak out against what is wrong.

Louth will need unity and hope in the months to come.

“Political fighting in Louth City Council is pointless. I wish everyone in Louth the best of Christmas ”

Alex Cox was elected to a Labor list in 2019, but in April he backed the Heritage Party ahead of Lincolnshire County Council elections in May.

Jerry C. Greiner