Leader: I won’t quit over ‘Tweet­gate’

Macclesfield Express - - TWEETGATE - ALEX HIB­BERT

CHESHIRE East leader Michael Jones has told the Ex­press he has no in­ten­tion of re­sign­ing over ‘Tweet­gate’.

The Con­ser­va­tive leader has ad­mit­ted the lines had be­come ‘blurred’ after it was re­vealed that coun­cil staff had writ­ten po­lit­i­cal tweets on his be­half – but in­sisted he had done noth­ing to war­rant re­sign­ing

e coun­cil leader also said that he would not be is­su­ing an apol­ogy over the is­sue after Labour and UKIP coun­cil­lors called for him to step down.

Last week it was re­vealed that coun­cil staff had drafted and then posted a num­ber of tweets which ap­peared on his Twit­ter ac­count.

This goes against lo­cal gov­ern­ment rules as the coun­cil’s press of­fice is re­quired to be non-po­lit­i­cal

oun Jones told the Ex­press he would not be re­sign­ing over the is­sue.

He said coun­cil staff had been asked to send out the tweets be­cause he wanted to en­sure noth­ing he tweeted was defam­a­tory.

But when asked by the Ex­press he re­fused to com­ment on how staff had be­come in­volved in writ­ing po­lit­i­cal tweets or say whether any ac­tion would be taken – say­ing that was a mat­ter for the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Suarez.

He said: “ad­mit­ted they have crossed the line but there’s a need for me to make sure what I’m say­ing is not defam­a­tory.

“Tweet­ing is not a pri­or­ity for me, my pri­or­i­ties are do­ing the job.

“will not be apol­o­gis­ing.

“am happy to apol­o­gise when have done

IIII­some­thing wrong.

“Why are the Labour party al­ways ask­ing me to re­sign, are they scared?

Ithink the an­swer is yes.”

“Given we are now the third best rated coun­cil in the coun­try for schools, given we have bal­anced our bud­get, given that we are among the best place to live in the north west, what do you ex­pect?”

Tim Roca, Labour prospec­tive par­lia­men­tary can­di­date for Mac­cles­field, has writ­ten to the sec­re­tary of state for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Eric Pick­les ask­ing him to in­ves­ti­gate.

In the let­ter he calls the al­le­ga­tions ‘alarm­ing’, and asks for an ‘ur­gent re­view’ into the rev­e­la­tions.

The coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive is also be­ing urged to call a meet­ing of all the po­lit­i­cal group lead­ers in the wake of the row.

Speak­ing about the meet­ing Bren­dan Murphy, In­de­pen­dent ward coun­cil­lor for Tyther­ing­ton, said: “We have called for the meet­ing be­cause we are deeply con­cerned by the tweet­ing rev­e­la­tions and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions.”

If chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Suarez agrees, the meet­ing would be at­tended by Labour group leader David New­ton, Coun Murphy, as leader of the In­de­pen­dents, Lib Dem leader Rod Fletcher and Sil­vester. Con­ser­va­tive group leader Michael Jones would also be asked to at­tend – although Coun Murphy stressed it is the chief ex­ec­u­tive who should chair the meet­ing.

Last week, the coun­cil told the Ex­press that the coun­cil of­fi­cers’ fu­ture in­volve­ment in texts would be con­fined to an ad­vi­sory role.

A spokesman said: “We have al­ready made a clear state­ment about the is­sue of the Leader’s per­sonal Twit­ter mes­sages and will not be com­ment­ing on in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers or ex­changes about Tweets.”

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●● Coun­cil­lor Michael Jones

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