Saddleworth Parish Councillor walks out of forum after convicted colleague turns up

A DEFIANT Saddleworth Parish Councillor walked out of a key community forum to stick to his promise of not sharing a meeting with disgraced councilor Mike Buckley.

Father of three Steve Hewitt made his protest when Cllr Buckley appeared at the forum attended by more than 20 villagers and councillors at Uppermill Civic Hall.

Cllr Steve Hewitt
Cllr Steve Hewitt

Cllr Buckley was making his first appearance at a public meeting since being found guilty and sentenced in January for downloading indecent images of naked boys from the internet.

Cllr Hewitt, 49, a Labour Parish Councillor, gave his apologies and left the meeting, missing a presentation by the Environment Agency on recent floods in the area.

Speaking later, Cllr Hewitt, an education officer with the Unite trade union, said he was disappointed to miss the talk but was determined to hold his stance about Cllr Buckley.

He said: “I was really looking forward to this meeting as items up for discussion were very proactive then I felt I had to give my apologies and leave as the disgraced Parish Councillor arrived.

“Unfortunately the meeting went ahead as I can understand the other councillors were placed in a difficult position.

“But unless we all take a stance and the law is not changed then he will have leave to attend full council and other committee meetings as a resident, which is totally untenable.”

He continued: “My stance has not changed from the day he was found guilty. On hearing the verdict I refused to attend any meetings where he was present and will continue to do so.

“I am the only Parish Councillor who took this stance. It is on record that I did not attend the Conservation, Planning and Full council meetings for the two months it took to pull together the plan to remove him from the various committees.

“Debbie Abrahams MP and a local resident Holly Wood’s campaign has done some good work making the potential change in law a more speedy process where a councillor can be removed.

“I find his behaviour abhorrent and unforgivable and as well as those Parish Councillors who do support his return.”

Cllr Hewitt added: “Some say with Mike Buckley’s removal there is a massive loss of local knowledge but I feel with greatest of respect we can do without Mike Buckley and the new councillors will learn their tasks, but that will take time.”

 

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