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No apology from former leader of Lancashire County Council over spat
LANCASHIRE county Tory leader Geoff Driver was yesterday ordered to say ‘sorry’ to his Liberal Democrat counterpart Bill Winlow over an angry confrontation – but has refused to do so.
The local authority’s conduct committee sat yesterday afternoon following an investigation by officials.
It decided that Coun Driver’s behaviour broke its rules and demanded that he write a letter of apology to Coun Winlow.
The altercation took place on May 21 after the elections that month left no party in overall control of the authority which provides services in Burnley, Pendle, and Rossendale.
It came after the breakdown of talks between the two parties in the Liberal Democrat office at County Hall, Preston.
Coun Driver, who lost his position as county council leader as a result, said: “The meeting decided I had broken the county council’s code of conduct.
“I was ordered to write Coun Winlow a letter of apology but I am not going to.
“There is nothing more they can do about it if I refuse to write the letter.
“They accepted there was no physical contact between us. I told them I attempted to snatch some papers back from him and swore at him. This was during a private meeting.
“My behaviour was unseemly but things can get pretty heated in private political meetings.”
Coun Winlow said: “It takes a big man to apologise.
“I am happy with the outcome of the meeting whether Coun Driver apologises or not as it puts down a marker about his future behaviour.
“There was physical contact.”
The conduct committee was chaired by the council’s Labour leader Jennifer Mein who took over the running of the council with Liberal Democrat support shortly after the talks between the other two parties collapsed.
A county council spokesman said: “The meeting was a private meeting. We are issuing no details of the result.”
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