Councillor Phillip Jackson to stay on as leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, vote decides

Councillor Phillip Jackson to stay on as leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, vote decides

A council vote tonight has decided that Councillor Phillip Jackson will stay on as the leader of North East Lincolnshire Council.

This follows Labour Councillor Matthew Patrick’s motion to remove Councillor Jackson as leader because of his former deputy John Fenty’s business links with a convicted fraudster.

Councillor Fenty, former chairman of Grimsby Town FC, stood down as deputy leader of North East Lincolnshire Council in December, but remained as the ward councillor for Humberston and New Waltham.

His resignation came after it came to light that he had invited convicted fraudster Alex May to attend a meeting with the Grimsby Town FC club directors.

May was jailed for six years after, in 2007, he led a gang of con artists who targeted elderly residents of Manchester. He also stole £3.5 million and attempted to steal another £3.3 million.

Councillor Patrick said: “I would’ve held high admiration for Councillor Jackson if he showed the leadership and courage needed at the first opportunity, to act meaningfully, decisively, and in the public interest. Instead, he dithered. I asked Cllr Jackson to investigate the matter both privately and publicly, and the only response I received was that my concerns were noted. This is completely unacceptable.

“Information should never be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for doing so. Holders of public officers should be truthful. They should be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.”

He continued: “Councillor Jackson, you have been called out. You attempted to sweep this issue of your own creation within your own administration under the carpet in the hope that it might go away quietly, but it hasn’t and it never will. Your hands are now permanently stained with the birth of this fiasco and secondly, the lack of willingness to be seen to take decisive action within the public interest, and in return it now reflects on all of us.

“This council needs a fresh start. By sending a message that we can and will be seen to start to repair the mistakes of the past. This council deserves better. The residents deserve better. North East Lincolnshire deserves better. This council needs a new leader.”

In response, Councillor Jackson said: “I’m not going to take lessons in leadership from Councillor Patrick.

“This council has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past 2 years of Conservative leadership after years of Labour stagnation. As well as improving front line services and sorting out the mess in children’s services left to us, we have seen record amounts of grant funding coming into the area with numerous regeneration, job creation and highway improvement schemes.

“This is just a shallow political stunt in the run-up to the May elections. If Councillor Patrick really believes that Councillor Fenty and I failed to uphold the integrity of our respected offices or not met the standard of conduct expected, then why has it taken him three months to take any action?

“He’s the one who’s demonstrating lack of leadership. Why has he not acted before? Why has he not used the Standards process if he’s got concern? Because he knows there is no case to answer.

“I’ve always been satisfied that Councillor Fenty has declared interest and stepped away from a decision making process in any areas where he has a conflict. This motion is long on innuendo, rumour and allegations, which have no substance.

22 councillors voted against Councillor Jackson’s removal, compared to 16 votes for his removal.

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