Councillor shocked by intervention of council’s solicitor in her Tory leaflets complaint

Written by Gerald Isaaman on .

Councillor Peggy DowCouncillor Peggy DowThe status of Wiltshire Council’s solicitor Ian Gibbons is likely to be challenged by Councillor Peggy Dow after he surprisingly intervened in the controversy over leaflets issued by Conservative candidates for tomorrow’s election.

Councillor Dow and others have complained that voters are confused by allegedly mistaken claims in the literature that Tory-controlled Wiltshire has frozen its council tax for four years – and next year’s too.

Following her frustrated attempts to protest to Dr Carlton Brand, the legal Returning Officer for the election, she emailed Jane Scott, the council’s Conservative leader, with the result that Mr Gibbons spoke to her.

“He told me that Dr Brand will not interfere with this matter because he is the Returning Officer and cannot be involved,” Councillor Dow told Marlborough News Online. “I don’t believe that to be the case.

“I asked him, ‘Are you telling me that nothing can be done?’  He said, ‘We don’t interfere with councillors’ leaflets’ and said I could complain later.

“I asked to whom?  He didn’t mentioned the Electoral Commission.  From what he said, I presumed it was to him, but only after the election and that’s when it will be too late for candidates to be disqualified.

“My complaint has been passed to him because he is the legal boss.  He was just trying to shut me up.  I find the situation quite shocking.”

She added: “As far I am concerned, Mr Gibbons has no status in this matter whatsoever.  He is an employee of the council, someone who shouldn’t be involved in any way.”

Councillor Dow is now contemplating making a complaint to the Electoral Commission and also making one against Mr Gibbons after the election results are announced on Friday.  She is standing as an independent candidate in Marlborough’s East Ward, where she was out delivering her own leaflets today.

“Lots of people I have talked to are disgusted with the Tory election literature,” she said.  “People are saying, ‘Yes, they will support me.  But until they get to the ballot box they have a choice of five people to vote for.

“I hope that when they do they realise that the hard work in representing the people is done serving on Marlborough town council, not as a paid councillor for Wiltshire.

“As a former Mayor of Marlborough, that is the strong point I want to emphasise – that those of us who stand for the town council do the hard work that goes with being a Wiltshire councillor too.”

See: Wiltshire’s electoral officer’s abdication of his responsibilities is staggering  (Readers Letters)