Suspended councillor blames ‘conspiracy’

A CONSERVATIVE councillor who said he wanted to string a council officer from the nearest tree has been suspended from his post for four months.

An independent standards committee panel found West Lindsey councillor for Middle Rasen Geoff Wiseman breached the code of conduct after saying he wanted to “string” the council’s director of communities and localism Rachel North from “the nearest tree”.

During the mammoth five-hour meeting Coun Wiseman was also found guilty of shouting at a council assistant and accusing her of lying, using inappropriate language during a council meeting and acting aggressively towards a council officer.

Coun Wiseman – who has since resigned from the Conservative group because he felt let down by “a lack of support” - said he is appealing the suspension and believes there was a “conspiracy” against him.

He said: “I believe it was a conspiracy to get me out of the council because my face doesn’t fit.

“As soon as I was voted on to the council in 2011, council officers made complaints about me for things they say happened in 2009 and 2010.

“There were 13 complaints made against me in total and I won nine of them.

“I think there’ll be some officers rubbing their hands with glee and some will be sad at the outcome.

“I’m a robust person. I’m very blunt, I won’t take no for an answer. I’m not going to lie down and take this. If they think that because they’ve suspended me, I’ going to go away, they can forget about it.

“I will be back in there full force. I will ask for every single paper from every single meeting that takes place during my suspension.”

The councillor - who won his seat in a 2008 by-election and was re-elected last year with a majority of 200 - said he regretted his comments about Rachel North.

He said: “I didn’t mean it at all. And when I used inappropriate language in a council meeting, I was having a really tough time in my personal life and it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

“I had a mini breakdown. I got a bit irate, I swore a bit and I was crying.”

Speaking about his decision to resign from West Lindsey District Council’s Conservative group, coun Wiseman said: “I’ve hardly had any support from them. They did not stand by me, there’s no loyalty.”

Independent standards committee chairman Gerry Phillips said: “The punishment imposed by the committee shows how important we believe it is that people in public office uphold the highest standards. The electorate have a right to expect nothing else.”

The suspension disqualifies Coun Wiseman from taking part in any formal council business, including any committee meetings and representing the council.

He is also banned from holding surgeries and representing residents as a councillor.

The Conservative leader of West Lindsey District Council Burt Keimach declined to comment on the situation.

During Geoff Wiseman’s suspension Middle Rasen residents should contact Hemswell Cliff councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan on 01427 612017.