Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 24, 2018

Wigan Council Woes

Wigan Council  knew on 15th February 2018 it would lose the Cllr Jones case. Cllr Jones took the council to the High Court and won the right to have a Judicial Review. He and his supporters won that but failed to get the injunction to stop the election on a legal technicality. As one supporter, Cllr Gareth Fairhurst said “To you and me it was the fact that [Chief Executive] Donna Hall wasn’t in the court room and had she been there I have absolutely no doubt that it would have been stopped by Hon Justice Kerr there and then”.

The Council barrister argued that Donna Hall was acting as a returning Officer a position that Wigan Council gave her but it is a stand-alone position. For that reason she had to be named personally on the legal papers and not just have Wigan Council name on there.

Cllr Fairhurst “had previously been discussing the case with the highly respected solicitor Piers Coleman and those talks continued throughout the weekend day and night. When the Hearing started it became very clear to Cllr Fairhurst that the Judge was not impressed that he had this case in front of him and he knew he was going to be ripping into someone. The legal arguments went back and forth very quickly because the Council said if they lost they would be going to London to get an urgent appeal in. The Judge was OK with this if that was what either side wanted but he got things moving quickly. He basically said to the Barristers don’t tell me something that you have written as I have read them over night.

“We had not only applied for the Injunction but for him to listen to the Judicial Review at the same time and to wrap it all up. He agreed but the council didn’t like this. It became apparent that he was going to agree with us on the JR and that Steve never had resigned. So now that had been resolved what to do with the election? I know the courts do not and I really do mean do not like getting involved with elections. The council’s barrister had said this and tried to use this as their argument but the judge said he could because it was an exceptional case and he was reluctant, but it was a mess that had been created by Donna Hall’s own doing. Discussions went back and forth people that had voted via postal votes would have to be destroyed but then Steve’s barrister said well what about all the people that voted for him 2016 what about their democracy and votes?

“So he said that because he had decided the by election should never have been called he said there really was only one thing to do – cancel the By election. What a result! At the point Steve’s barrister applied for costs against the council – another word for them to pick the bill up for everything as they had been at fault. The answer was yes and for a number of reasons including that I had written to Donna Hall last Friday after the last hearing to say call the election off or you will lose and get a big bill. She had been warned as I put her on immediate noticed. She wrote back to me on Monday night and said no. That was the trigger me and Steve had waited for and we knew we would go to London the following morning”.

“The Judge had said yesterday that Donna Hall should never have called the election and she never had the power to do so. Also that even when I warned her and told her to stop she ignored it and carried on. All these actions plus many others have left the tax payers with a bill that is huge. She is on over £200,000 and I believe that she should be sacked immediately with no golden hand shake pay off. If the Labour Leader Cllr Peter Smith sticks by her then he is condoning her actions and even to this very day the Council and Donna are claiming the Judge got it wrong and Steve resigned. The Judge said in his opinion he did not and then another said he definitely didn’t. I know Steve is getting back to helping residents but also Donna Hall needs to give him a personal and public apology now! This is just a small amount of detail on the whole case but hopefully it shows you some of what has gone on and what should happen in my opinion now”.

Isn’t life in West Lancashire boring by comparison?

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