Readers may look askance at the Minute COU38 of the extraordinary meeting of the Wyre Borough Council called by the Mayor to be held on 28th September 2017 to hear a “Motion To Remove The Leader of the Council” with immediate effect, the Leader being Cllr Peter Gibson. The motion was proposed by Cllr A Vincent and seconded by Cllr Moon [now also a West Lancashire Borough member]. It was resolved by 31 votes to 0, after which another motion to appoint Cllr A Vincent as interim Leader of the Council until 7 December 2017 at the latest was carried by 31 votes to 8.
In February 2011 it was reported that Cllr Moon had quit Wyre Council’s ruling cabinet after throwing a dog ‘poop scoop’ bag at a member of the public, following a council chamber debate on dog control orders. The bag hit Mrs Irene Horner, a pensioner, who had taken part in a question and answer session, along with other dog owners concerned about the impact of the orders. Mrs Horner said “This is disgraceful behaviour from a cabinet councillor, which only serves to bring the council into disrepute. Can you imagine the outrage if someone in the public gallery had thrown something at a councillor?”
Moon decided to step down from his £8,000 a year post as cabinet member with responsibility for ‘Street Scene’ matters. Moon apologised to the members of the public and resigned from the role of street scene portfolio holder. Moon’s party and Council leader Peter Gibson said Moon had been quick to take personal responsibility for his actions as he recognised that this was an error of judgement on his part. It was not the first time Moon’s activities in the council chamber had raised eyebrows, as he put a pair of underpants on his head during a mayoral meeting, prompting quizzical looks and leading one Tory colleague to describe his actions as “out of the school of Michael Bentine, and not appropriate in a council chamber”.
A month or so ago the Mirror reported that “a rural council was at war after its Tory leader sent a “jaw-dropping e-mail rant in revenge for being forced out”. The saga unfolded on Wyre Council, Lancashire, after more than 30 fellow Tory councillors voted to axe Peter Gibson as leader while he holidayed in Portugal.
“Cllr Gibson allegedly wrote a bizarre rant in revenge for being ousted by his own party. His “bombshell e-mail” went to 50 people accusing some fellow councillors of domestic abuse, throwing dog poo at a resident, and having sex in the back of a car. His fellow councillors used an emergency meeting to accuse him of turning up to meetings “worse for wear” for drink, a claim Cllr Gibson denies. So Mr Gibson, who was leader for eight years, responded with his dramatic mid-morning e-mail to all councillors.
“Seen by the Mirror, it claimed the wife of one rival made a “claim that he was violent towards her”. Another, the e-mail said, “once threw false dog poo at a resident in the public gallery”. A third, it was claimed, “once turned up at full council after a day out with his pals and bragged he had drank 10 pints”. A fourth was accused of having sex in the back of a vehicle. The e-mail added “These are the people who make a judgement on me. Next to them I look like Mother Theresa”.
“Frantic council chiefs launched an investigation hours after Mr Gibson sent the litany of claims last Friday and blocked him from accessing his e-mail account, iPhone and iPad. Chief executive Garry Payne e-mailed all councillors warning them not to leak the message because it “may be a serious breach of the data protection act”. Mr Gibson confirmed he sent the e-mail in a phone call with the Mirror, saying “I thought I needed to bring it into the public domain.” He claimed his ousting showed “the nasty party is back”, adding: “It’s outrageous, it’s disgraceful, it’s disgusting, they couldn’t even wait until I was back.”
“Asked about claims he turned up “worse for wear” for drink, Mr Gibson said “That’s just nonsense. I’ve got diabetes. If you Google ‘diabetes’ you’ll find you sometimes look as if you’re intoxicated when you’re not.” Asked if he had a drinking problem Mr Gibson said “I’ve got medical conditions, I accept that”. Asked if he was talking about his diabetes, he replied “Yeah, and I’ve got highish, not massively high, blood pressure.”
“But interim council leader Alan Vincent, also a Tory , insisted “He turned up to two council meetings apparently the worse for wear.” Mr Vincent added “Nobody knew he was on holiday because it wasn’t in his diary. Obviously we thought we had to take action fairly quickly to protect the people of Wyre, and that’s what we did”. He declined to comment on the contents of the e-mail and said Mr Gibson was still a member of the Conservative group [he has since left the Conservative party].
“Wyre Council chief executive Garry Payne said in a statement “It has been brought to my attention that the former Leader of the council, Cllr Peter Gibson has sent an email to all councillors and the email contains a number of statements, some that could be libellous and others that may breach the Data Protection Act. This is a very serious matter but for reasons of transparency and to avoid any accusations of bias, I have asked an independent local authority to support me with the investigation.” Wyre Council refused to tell the Mirror which council was supporting the investigation”.