9:46am Wednesday 19th March 2014
THE deputy leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has been suspended for two weeks after he was found to have improperly used council resources.
Councillor Rob Lewis was the subject of a Code of Conduct hearing at County Hall on Tuesday, after being accused of using authority computers for political campaigning in the last elections.
The Public Service Ombudsman was called into investigate a complaint made by Cllr David Bryan, after he received an anonymous DVD called ‘IPG election campaigns 2008 and 2012’ with 16 sub-files on it in September 2012.
A report which went before the Standards Committee said Cllr Lewis accepts that he had used the council’s computer system inappropriately in 16 circumstances, including creating election posters encouraging people to vote for the likes of David Simpson, Elwyn Morse, Ken Rowlands, Lyndon Frayling, Pearl Llewellyn, Peter Stock and himself and former councillors Clive Collins, Jim Codd and John George.
But Cllr Lewis disputed that the context of a further five instances were improper use. In his opinion those matters related to either the preparation or formation of the relevant political structures required for the running of an authority.
As the secretary to the Independent Group, Cllr Lewis said: “I was asked by members to prepare a speculative view of how the authority would look after the elections.
“Maybe in hindsight I should have picked up my laptop, instead I used the machine which I had sat in front of for six or seven years.
“The files are split into two sections: Pre election files and actual files. The pre election ones could be deemed inappropriate, but the post election ones are to do with the formation of the council.
“The files before you were stored in the council system, taken without my permission, and used against me.”
Cllr Lewis also raised concerns about the publicity surrounding the matter, with the complainant already bringing it to the attention of the press, and the stolen files available to see on Cllr Jacob Williams’ website. He said the matter should have been kept confidential until it had reached a conclusion.
After deliberations, Cllr Lewis was found to have breached the Code of Conduct and was suspended for two weeks. The Standards Committee also recommended a review be undertaken of the use of Council IT resources.
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