Civic business as usual for under fire Wisbech mayor
- Credit: Wisbech Town Council
Wisbech mayor Aigars Balsevics adopted a ‘civic business as usual’ stance by attending an online service organised by the mayor of Northampton.
Over the weekend Cllr Balsevics released a statement saying that with “hindsight” he could have done more to prevent Covid-19 breaches at one of his three pubs.
Hit by a £1,000 fixed penalty notice and removed as the designated premises supervisor (DPS) at The Angel, he had spoken of the events of the past tumultuous week.
“I wear two hats, one as a licensee and one as the mayor,” he said.
Today (Monday) the town council issued a photograph and short press release of his return to civic duties.
The statement said Cllr Balsevics “attended an online civic service, by video conferencing, on Sunday March 21 by invitation from the mayor of the borough of Northampton, Cllr Brian W Sargeant.
“Mayors and chairs were invited to don their robes and chains of office and join Cllr Sargeant at All Saints Church via an online link.
“Mayor Balsevics was able to see the entire service led by Rev Father Coss and his chorister as well as Cllr Sargeant’s chosen charity, The Lowdown, from the comfort of the town hall offices.”
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In his weekend statement Cllr Balsevics said: “As licensee I have to run a business that works for my staff and my customers.
“As well I provide for the well-being and safety of them by promoting the licensing objectives.
“As mayor I understand I must set an example.
“I cannot talk about the ongoing licensing case as it is my intention to appeal the decision and I don’t want to jeopardise the case.
“With hindsight I do accept I could have done more and there are lessons for us all”.
He reminded people his term of office as mayor was for one years and expires on May 17.
“In this year, I have worked hard attending events (where possible due to Covid) and raised thousands of pounds for local charities.
“I did medication deliveries and grocery shopping for elderly and vulnerable people.”
As mayor he would normally preside over meetings of Wisbech Town Council; last Monday the council decided to postpone their scheduled meeting for April.
The council won’t meet again until the end of May.
On Friday this newspaper revealed that Cllr Balsevics had been handed a £1,000 fixed notice penalty for breaching Covid-19 regulations.
A police spokesperson said: “A 39-year-old man has been made aware that a £1,000 Covid Fixed Penalty Notice was submitted at the end of last month.
“It is currently being considered by ACRO Criminal Records Office.
“We encourage communities to take personal responsibility and follow Government regulations to help stop the spread of the virus.”
The statement was provided following a request by this newspaper as to whether Cambridgeshire Police had taken action separately to that by Fenland District Council licensing committee.
Cllr Balsevics, 39, went before a licensing subcommittee of the council last Monday.
He faced allegations that on Christmas Eve he was the DPS of the Angel public house when police and environmental health officers inspected it.
On Thursday the committee removed Cllr Balsevics as the DPS and suspended the pub’s premises licence held by Elgoods for three months.
“There was little or no safeguarding for employees and customers,” was the verdict of the licensing committee of Fenland District Council.
“The motive behind this blatant disregard can only be for profit,” the committee concluded.
Elgoods has been told to find a new tenant for the Angel.
ACRO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) offers those who have received fixed penalty notices the option of paying in full within 28 days or contesting it through the courts.
There is no facility to appeal or dispute.
These can only be contested through a court hearing.
In an earlier statement to a journalist, he said that he hoped and believed the licensing committee’s verdict would be overturned on appeal.
Once an appeal is lodged – he has 21 days in which to do so – he can continue to run the Angel.
He said that he did not believe the decision of the committee to be “proportionate based on the facts as presented in the hearing”