THE deputy leader of Pembrokeshire County Council comfortably survived a vote of no confidence at full council today (Thursday).
In March Councillor Rob Lewis was suspended for two weeks after he breached the code of conduct by using authority computers for political campaigning in the last elections.
An Ombudsman report which went before the Standards Committee stated Cllr Lewis accepted he had used the council’s computer system inappropriately on 16 occasions.
Both Cllrs Mike Stoddart and David Bryan submitted separate motions of no confidence in the deputy leader.
Thirty-six members voted against the motion, with 13 in favour and three abstentions.
Cllr Stoddart questioned how Cllr Lewis could have told the Ombudsman’s investigator he had paid £90 to £100 to print election posters, while also submitting an expenses claim of £55.96. “Both statements cannot possibly be true,” he said.
Council leader Cllr Jamie Adams leapt to Cllr Lewis’ defence over the “misdemeanour”, and praised his work.
Cllr Simon Hancock said he did not approve of what Cllr Lewis had done but he would not support the motion.
He called on members to “build each other up” and look to the future.
“It’s just becoming ridiculous that as a council we are not dealing with the issues that matter, instead of coming back and back with the same notices of motion,” Cllr Sue Perkins added.
But other members disagreed.
Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “This is about the integrity of a man who sits in cabinet and is the deputy leader of this council, something which is not to be taken lightly.”
Cllr Michael Williams said Cllr Lewis had brought the authority into “disrepute”, while Cllr David Lloyd said it was “profoundly” important to act with integrity.
Cllr Stoddart said he had never heard so many “weasel words” and added that while he did not expect to win the motion in the chamber, he expected to win the motion outside the chamber.
A vote was not taken on Cllr Jacob Williams’ call for members to “deplore” Cllr Lewis’ actions following legal advice from the monitoring officer.