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Council leader in 'Rotten Boroughs'

1st February 2015 @ 6:06am – by Webteam
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Last month, we speculated on AudlemOnline that Cheshire East council leader Michael Jones' unseemly spat with Cllr Brian Silvester might attract Private Eye's Rotten Borough's attention.

We were nearly, but not quite, right. Instead it's his tweeting – reported initially on BBC Radio Stoke and then on BBC North West Tonight – that got the Private Eye's council watching column going. It says:

Press Orifice

When Labour Stoke-on-Trent council's deputy leader Paul Shotton was exposed last year for using false names to praise the council in text messages to local BBC radio, the Tory leader of nearby Cheshire East council, Michael Jones, was quick to jeer.

He tweeted: "Just a note on the story about Paul Shotton...There's no one called Alison, Dave or Jean using my mobile. It's all me."

Except, we now learn thanks to a Freedom of Information request by local BBC hack Phil McCann, it wasn't him at all. Too dim – sorry, too busy – to think up his own tweets, Jones' were written by the council's press officers, principally the grandly titled "corporate manager communications and media relations", Beverley Walkden.

Many tweets were devoted to attacks on political opponents. Fine, if Jones had written them himself, but he hadn't.

The press officers who spent their tax-payer funded time composing Jones' 140-character gobbets were in breach of their obligation to be politically neutral. Opposition councillors called on Jones to resign for misusing public resources.

The egregious Ms Walkden has appeared in the Eye before for acting in a less than neutral manner. In June 2013 she refused to answer legitimate questions from us about allegations that a senior council officer had received free Manchester United tickets.

She said: "Sometimes we don't respond to questions if there is nothing in it for us....if there is no upside for the council." What an operator.

From Private Eye 23rd January – 5th February.

This article is from our news archive. As a result pictures or videos originally associated with it may have been removed and some of the content may no longer be accurate or relevant.

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