Leader: I won’t quit over ‘Tweetgate’
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
“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.”
●● Councillor Michael Jones