CONVICTED COUNCILLOR Mike Buckley has been removed from all committees on Saddleworth Parish Council following a vote by fellow councillors.
Buckley must take part in the Internet Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme, is part way through a 28-day curfew and is subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.
He insisted he will not step down from the Parish Council, saying “my responsibility is to those who elected me. I intend to carrying on doing that to the best of my abilities.”
But now, after the January Full Council meeting which independent Cllr Buckley did not attend, he is no longer a member of any of their committees.
Councillors voted in favour of Cllr Paul Fryer’s motion to dissolve the environment, estates, finance and planning committees – on which Cllr Buckley served – and re-elect members, excluding Cllr Buckley.
Cllr Rob Knotts has replaced Cllr Buckley as chair of the planning committee and also takes his position on the Conservation Area Advisory Committee and Strategic Planning Committee, while Cllr Jamie Curley will be a representative at the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership.
Cllr Fryer explained: “We can not remove Cllr Buckley from the Parish Council so the proposal is to remove him from the committees instead.
“We want to give out a sign to the people of Saddleworth that we will not tolerate what Cllr Buckley has done. Cllr Buckley should be removed as far away from this council as possible.”
Cllr Alan Belmore spoke in support of the motion and said the council has lessons to learn from what has happened.
“When you commit the crimes Cllr Buckley has been convicted of, you cannot be allowed to hold positions of responsibility in public life,” he said.
“Cllr Buckley’s crimes are abhorrent and have shocked our community. If there were a mechanism to force Cllr Buckley from his position, I would be voting for it today.
“I offer Cllr Buckley this plea. It is time for you to go. If you had even one ounce of remorse you would know that you have to go.”
He added that Cllr Buckley was charged with offences in March last year but in May, apart from the Lib Dems group, every other councillor voted Cllr Buckley in as chair of the planning committee.
“We all know prevention is better than a cure and this council must be held responsible for the choices it makes,” he said.
“Cllr Heffernan warned councillors in May that given the crimes Cllr Buckley was accused of, it was wholly inappropriate for him to serve as chairman of the planning committee.
“The councillors who voted for him should be hanging their heads in shame. If they had not made that decision we would not have to be discussing this motion today.”
But Cllr John Hudson argued: “I have no shame about supporting Cllr Buckley and voting for him to chair the planning committee as he had the ability to do the job.”
And Cllr Katrina Roman added: “Are you asking the public to hang their heads in shame too for voting for him [in the May elections]?
“We have been trying to deal with this as things are unfolding and up until his sentence he was innocent until proven guilty.”
In a statement issued after the meeting, chairman of the Parish Council Neil Allsopp said the move was an “unequivocable message to Councillor Buckley and Saddleworth that they wish to disassociate themselves from him as far as possible.”
He continued: “It is now clearer than ever Saddleworth Parish Council and the people of Saddleworth do not wish Mike Buckley to continue to remain on Saddleworth Parish Council.
“It is in the interests of all concerned that he resigns immediately. He should go, and go now.”
Meanwhile, councillors also voted for investigations to be carried out to see if there is a requirement for councillors to have DBS checks.