More suspensions over “Winegate”

Top Tory announces suspension of ‘Winegate’ two

Thurrock conservatives have issued a statement regarding the never ending winegate affair.

Cllr Garry Hague, Leader of the Conservative Group, said today (Tuesday): “We have investigated the incidents in question and have concluded that Cllrs Eddie Hardiman and Danny Nicklen did not maintain the standards expected of individuals in their position. Cllr James Halden was present on the evening but was not culpable in the incidents that took place.

“The councillors have accepted that they made a grave error and each of them has made an unreserved apology for any offence that might have been caused. The Conservative Party aims to promote the highest standards of conduct amongst its members and will not tolerate this sort of behaviour. As a consequence of their actions Cllrs Hardiman and Nicklen will remain suspended from the Conservative Group, and Cllr Hardiman will step down as Deputy Mayor and will relinquish his position on the Licensing Committee.

“Cllr Nicklen will step down from his position as Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

“The length of Cllr Hardiman and Cllr Nicklen’s suspensions will be decided by the Conservative Group at a special meeting on 29 November — called in line with the disciplinary procedures of the Conservative Group rules.”

Cllr Hardiman, who had already resigned from the deputy mayorship before meeting top Tories last night, is quoted in the Conservatives’ statement as saying: “These incidents happened on my watch and I accept full responsibility. I am very sorry to Castle Point Council for the embarrassment this has caused. I have also apologised unreservedly to the land lady of the Catcracker for any offence I might have caused. Up to now I believe I have been a good Deputy Mayor, a position I have been privileged to hold. My behaviour on 5th November was below the standard I set for myself and it is right that I resign my position as the Deputy Mayor.”

Cllr Nicklen said: “I have apologised unreservedly to both Castle Point Council and to the landlady of the Catcracker. There is no excuse for my actions, which I accept have not been of the standard expected of an elected councillor. This was completely out of character for me and I have learned a massive lesson. I will work tirelessly to redeem myself working on behalf of my residents.”

And Cllr Halden said: “I apologise unreservedly to both Castle Point Council and to the land lady of the Catcracker.”

Cllr Mike Revell, Chairman of the South Basildon and East Thurrock (SBET) Conservative Association, said: “Immediately on hearing of the problems caused by the three councillors I spoke to them and decided, in conjunction with the officers of our Association, to immediately suspend Cllr Danny Nicklen and Cllr Eddie Hardiman from Party membership.

“Cllr Eddie Hardiman was deeply concerned and distressed that his actions had compromised his position as Deputy Mayor. After much thought he made the personal decision to resign. I know that I, and the members of our Association, are deeply saddened by this event which came about by a moment of stupidity and not malice. Eddie is a character, known to all in Stanford, and much loved and appreciated in his role of Deputy Mayor.

“But now is the time to turn all our efforts to solve one of the biggest problems I have ever known in local government – how do we manage the inevitable cuts with the minimum of hurt to our residents.”

Date published: 16/11/2010 12:38:32

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