A newly appointed Independent member of North Kesteven District Council’s executive board has been seeking legal advice after he says he has been the victim of personal attacks via Facebook and email.
Coun Steve Clegg, who along with fellow unaligned member Chris Goldson, had been trying to negotiate a joint administration between the two largest political groups after the local elections, says he has become a target for personal comments suggesting he had done a deal with the Conservatives on the council in return for a seat on the executive.
Other comments suggested he would ‘not be welcome’ in certain villages they represent.
He said one individual’s comments on Facebook contained many inaccurate assumptions about him and his motives. “His actions have harmed me, but what is even more unacceptable is that he has caused my family considerable distress due to his vitriol. Sadly, this is not the first time I have been subjected to his judgemental and abusive behaviour.”
He said: “He claims I am spineless for not ‘putting an end’ to the Conservative leadership. The irony is that it would have been far easier for me to have fallen in line with one or other faction than to do what I have done, which was to stand up for my principles and what I campaigned for by not aligning myself to any political group.
Coun Clegg went on: “I received an email from a resident of one of the villages in my ward again criticising me for not aligning with the Lincolnshire Independents. He has therefore deduced that I must have aligned with the Conservatives. This is absolute rubbish and runs completely against my stance as unaligned and against the tribal nature of politics that has dominated our council in the past. For quite some time I have pushed against a ‘them and us’ mindset and have stuck resolutely to this.”
He said there had been promising early signs that a joint administration could be achieved, but talks failed when, on the eve of the council meeting, the sides could not agree to sign up to a working framework.
In the spirit of co-operation, he and Lincolnshire Independent Mervyn Head were asked to join four Conservative on the executive.
Coun Clegg denied that his motives were financial by taking the allowance for the position, saying: “Not only will I be losing significant income compared to what I would be able to earn in my professional career, I am also going to sacrifice and never get back precious time with my beloved family.
“I will continue to work with all concerned, and to push for an end to tribal politics at NKDC. We still have some way to go, but at least we have started that journey.“
Leader of the NK Administration Group, Coun Richard Wright has outlined how talks broke down at the eleventh hour after the Lincolnshire Independents could not agree to terms and said: “The executive board will continue along the path set of co-operation.
“There was not any deal between the Conservative Group and the unaligned Independents and subsequent decisions made to offer roles and responsibilities were only made on Thursday, at full council after the talks had failed.”
See more on the new executive board appointments here: