Gosport Lib Dem leader banned from council for two years

by Stephen Tall on July 8, 2009

Lib Dem Voice reported last week that Peter Chegwyn, Lib Dem leader on Gosport Council in Hampshire, would this week be facing a standards board tribunal following allegations he used a council vote to protect his music festival. Portsmouth.co.uk reports the result:

Controversial Gosport politician Peter Chegwyn has been banned from being a councillor for two years.
The Lib Dem group leader was ruled to have breached the councillors’ code of conduct after he voted to block a motion relating to his Stokes Bay Festival last year. …

Cllr Chegwyn, who has been a councillor for 26 years, said: ‘I will now have a holiday, frankly Gosport is a very spiteful council and in some ways I’m very well out of it. My conscience is clear. But the Conservatives have been determined to get rid of me for years.’

Peter’s disqualification will trigger a by-election. In the circumstances, you might think the Tories would be looking forward to it, yet they seem to be a little less-than-confident about how they might fare when judged by the electorate at the moment. Apparently their nervousness has something to do with the identity of the Tory MP for Gosport, a certain Sir Peter Viggers, who gained national infamy for his £1,600 expenses claim for a duck island.

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He did what exactly?

by Andrew Suffield on July 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm. Reply #

Andrew , It is a rather complex case . He was accused of not declaring an interest in and taking part in a vote on the council relating to the music festival which he runs . The vote concerned though was not directly concerning the music festival but a vote on a motion to lift standing orders in order that the council could discuss the music festival ( not actually stated but impled ). Chegwyn’s argument was that if it came to the actual discussion on the music festival he would have declared an interest and withdrawn from the discussion .
It should also be noted that the complaint was laid by the leader of the Conservatives on the Council Peter Hook who stood against Chegwyn in the CC elections and lost . The Conservatives have lost to Chegwyn at every election for the last 26 years and clearly decided that if they could not defeat him at the ballot box , they would ignore the clear democratic wishes of his electors and get him out by other means .

by Mark Senior on July 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm. Reply #

A ridiculous decision which I hope the party will be challenging.

by ColinW on July 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm. Reply #

The SBE and its adjudication kangaroo court are an unelected undemocratic disgrace. The irony is that Camerons says he will abolish it all but it’s Tories who have used these panjandrums for obviously party political motives.

Why do we not pledge to clear it all away?

Tony Greaves

by tonygreaves on July 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm. Reply #

This seems like a very harsh sanction for what seemed to be quite a technical breach – or is there some detail I’m not aware of.

Tony – We certainly passed policy calling for the abolition of the SBE and the associated bodies a few years back. (It was IIRC proposed by ALDC and based on something I originally wrote)

by Hywel on July 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm. Reply #

Very sorry for Peter, I don’t think we as a party should accept this and challenge the SBE in the courts. Lets start a fighting fund.

by David on July 9, 2009 at 12:14 am. Reply #

I agree with other people’s comments.

It’s sad to learn that Peter Chegwyn, of the party’s best campaigners, has been barred by a kangaroo court made up of unelected no bodies.

by Robert Bleakley on July 9, 2009 at 2:33 pm. Reply #

Interesting to see that we’ve held on comfortably to two other Gosport seats where the councillors moved to Australia:

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/newshome/Lib-Dems-hold-on-to.5447629.jp

by David Blake on July 10, 2009 at 9:50 am. Reply #

My wife was one of our 2 successful candidates in yesterday’s Gosport by-election yesterday, and I can tell you it was clear on the doorstep that voters’ revulsion at the heavy-handed treatment meted out to Peter was one of the factors behind our vote going up!

Peter was recently re-elected to the County Council with a greatly increased majority. This in spite of the fact that the Tories put up the borough council leader against him – the very man who brought the complaint to the Standards Board in the first place – and that their (very negative) campaign centred wholly around the allegations. The voters clearly expressed their view on the matter.

At the same time, Gosport’s Tory MP – Peter “Duck House” Viggers – is refusing to stand down until the next election and is in line to receive £1million+ in pension and payouts. Polls show a huge majority of Gosport voters want him to resign immediately. Our eve of poll leaflet invited voters to compare and contrast – it certainly seems to have motivated our supporters judging by the turnout.

A big thank you to everyone who helped, in particular those who came from outside to help canvass and get out the vote on the day. (And congratulations to Peter himself, who coordinated this excellent by-election campaign – a deserved victory for him as well as for the party..and one that put a BIG smile on his face after a difficult week).

Eddie G (aka husband of newly-elected Councillor Siobhan Mitchell-Smith)

by Eddie Goncalves on July 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm. Reply #

“… barred by a kangaroo court …”

“… where the councillors moved to Australia …”

Spooky.

by Herbert Brown on July 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm. Reply #

The SBE is a disgrace. And parliament seems to be voting for something similar for MPs. Mad

by simon mcgrath on July 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm. Reply #

MPs already have an internal standards board – the Standards & Privileges Committee. I personally think we need an external independent body to investigate future allegations, and perhaps to revisit past decisions just to make absolutely sure they were not politically motivated.

by Adrian Sanders MP on July 12, 2009 at 10:26 am. Reply #

Peter may be well out of it for a while, but there is a principle at stake here: who decides on who’s aceptable as an elected representative, the electors or the body to which their representat-ive is elected?
I’m thinking of John Wilkes who, if my memory serves me correctly (it’s many years since I had to know the details in order to teach them), was refused admission to the House of Commons in the 18th century because he refused to take the oath, stood again at the by-election and was re-elected. If Peter stood in the by-election and was re-elected, what then?
In addition, in view of Peter’s services to the party since he was Stephen Ross’s election agent don’t we owe him our support – including financial – to challenge not only the right of this body to disbar him but also the severity of the penalty for what was only a technicality? He didn’t stgand to benefit financially, and it looks anomalous that he gets depriv ed of his living when his MP can sit it out despite having put in inappropriate claims for expenses (the infamous duck house)despite his constituents calling for his resignation?

by Martin Kyrle on July 13, 2009 at 11:55 am. Reply #

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