Oldham councillor Mark Wilkinson is definitely an elected representative with issues. The principal one being is that he doesn’t think that rules, procedures, standards, constitutional matters or the law apply to him, writes Neil Wilby.
This was his latest public performance last night at a Full Meeting of the Council that highlights some of those problems:
The discomfort and dismay of both the Mayor and other senior Members (and one officer) of Council looked, rightly, troubled during the interruption. One councillor, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals from the gang of social media trolls that maraud social media, looking for his critics, says: “It’s embarrassing. [Cllr Wilkinson] made himself a nuisance again. If we all have to follow the rules, why does he think he’s above all that”.
A number of others have been in contact, privately, to express similar views. Some in rather more colourful terms.
Cllr Wilkinson, who represents the hyper-local Failsworth Independent Party, is currently facing a serious Standards complaint, made by the former leader of the Council, Sean Fielding, following an email he sent to all the other 59 Members and several senior paid officers. It was circulated the day after he had made another attempt to interrupt agreed council business when they were in full session, again in pursuit of a personal crusade rather than ward business.
The complaint alleges amongst other issues that the email was defamatory, untruthful and created only with the intention of smearing the man whose seat he took at the May elections. It has cleared the first two stages of the Council’s Standards procedure and has now been passed over for independent investigation (read more here).
The controversial and deeply unpleasant smear campaign that led to Cllr Wilkinson being elected has attracted widespread media coverage, locally, regionally and nationally – and, of course, elsewhere on this website (read more here and here).
To the extent that, in early September, Cllr Wilkinson felt it necessary to attempt to silence robust, but fair, criticism by Neil Wilby. Local solicitor, Darren McGuinness of Harold Stock and Co was instructed to send a ‘Cease and Desist’ letter. Poorly drafted, factually incorrect in key areas, entirely deficient in supporting evidence and, most crucially, void of sustainable legal argument, it backfired on them both, spectacularly (read full story here).
A reply sent to Mr McGuinness, forensically detailing all of those flaws, remains unanswered to date. He was also asked to consider donating the £400 fee he received from Cllr Wilkinson to a local charity, but there is no evidence that he has done so (read more here).
Cllr Wilkinson and the Chair of the Failsworth Independent Party, his wife Kathleen, have been offered right of reply. They have declined all such previous invitations.
UPDATE: The publication of this article has, regrettably, and once again, triggered a torrent of abuse from supporters and associates of the FIPs. A political party that is a dark and toxic stain on the political landscape in the East Lancashire Borough.
Page last updated: Sunday 7th November, 2021 at 0740 hours
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Picture credit: Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
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