Tory councillor breaks party's silence on email gate and says leader resigned honourably

PUBLISHED: 16:25 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 02 June 2010

county council councillors Steve tierney

county council councillors Steve tierney

By John Elworthy A CONSERVATIVE councillor said today that Fred Yeulett, the former deputy leader of Fenland District Council had paid the price for his mistake in taking a confidential email to the chief executive, Tim Pilsbury. County councillor Steve T

Tory party meeting at Fenland Hall
Geoff Harper quits

By John Elworthy

A CONSERVATIVE councillor said today that Fred Yeulett, the former deputy leader of Fenland District Council had paid the price for his mistake in taking a confidential email to the chief executive, Tim Pilsbury.

County councillor Steve Tierney of Wisbech said of the email gate scandal that has rocked Fenland Hall that "some people made some mistakes and have paid the price for it.

"The council won't stop running, the world won't stop turning. The leader (Geoff Harper) has resigned honourably. The deputy leader has paid the price for a mistake."

Cllr Tierney, writing on his national party's website, Conservative Home, added: "Now we can move on, can't we?"

Cllr Tierney has become the first Conservative councillor in Fenland to comment on the controversy which follows Wednesday's departure of both the leader and the deputy leader of Fenland District Council.

Cllr Yeulett lost a vote of confidence but remains a Cabinet member since these appointments are made by the leader, who will not be vacating his seat until December 31.

Tory party meeting at Fenland Hall
Geoff Harper quits

The vote for a new leader will take place on January 7.

All of the Conservative councillors on the district council have kept silent over the escalating row, but Cllr Tierney tells the Conservative Party website that he believes the issue has been over played.

"There are obviously some smaller details and some interpersonal politics, but the crux of it is that a private email was leaked which caused a lot of upset. It should not have been leaked and tough consequences have been paid.

"It irritates me that so many people always want to harp on about large ruling groups factionalising. If you put three people in a room, sooner or later they factionalise. People have different ideas and opinions. The large ruling group in Fenland do great work and for the part are a strong team.

"Sometimes they have a bust up. Who doesn't?"

Tory party meeting at Fenland Hall
Geoff Harper quits

However the author of a story on the website about the resignation of Cllr Harper believes neither he nor Cllr Yeulett should have discussed the email with the chief executive, Tim Pilsbury.

Cllr Harry Phibbs says that "surely councillors should be able to criticise council officers privately to each other? Attacking council officers in public is another matter.

"Mr Pilsbury's complaint to the standards committee rather confirms him as one of those chief executives who won't put up with 'interference' from councillors.

"If my council was putting up Council Tax by three per cent, I'd certainly want to 'interfere.'"

Another councillor, commenting on the same website, says that in Fenland "it sounds as though, for a while at least, a large ruling group of comfortable members in safe seats have forgotten all about rigour and accountability.

"I'm glad to hear the backbenchers at Fenland have woken up at last".


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