Dewsbury councillor slams 'hypocritical' fellow Kirklees councillor

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A Dewsbury councillor has blasted fellow Kirklees councillor for breaking lockdown rules.

Dewsbury East coun Aleks Lukic made a formal complaint against fellow Kirklees coun Anthony Smith who broke lockdown restrictions to throw a birthday party in the Lake District.

The actions of Lib Dem councillor Anthony Smith, who represents Lindley, were said to have potentially brought his role and the council into disrepute.

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Coun Lukic said: "I'm making this complaint against coun Smith for breaching national coronavirus guidance by hosting a ‘birthday weekend’ in Bowness-on-Windermere, where he was photographed gathering within a group of 18 people in close proximity to each other.

Kirklees Lib Dems Clr Anthony Smith (seventh from left on back row) and Clr Cahal Burke (fourth from right) at the partyKirklees Lib Dems Clr Anthony Smith (seventh from left on back row) and Clr Cahal Burke (fourth from right) at the party
Kirklees Lib Dems Clr Anthony Smith (seventh from left on back row) and Clr Cahal Burke (fourth from right) at the party

"He subsequently made misleading official statements about coronavirus guidance in his capacity as a member of the council.

“He has also placed his position as a councillor and potentially the council as a whole into disrepute.”

The complaint comes across coun Smith tweeted a response to the Prime Minister's special adviser Dominic Cummings travelling over 260 miles during national lockdown in May.

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Mr Smith's actions have since been described as 'complete hypocrisy' with tweets hash tagged saying '#SackSmith #SackBurke'.

Councillor Anthony SmithCouncillor Anthony Smith
Councillor Anthony Smith

In a lengthy email he said that Clr Smith had not only broken lockdown restrictions and ignored social distancing but had made misleading statements.

Coun Lukic has accused the Lib Dem councillor of breaching principles of selflessness and honesty that apply to people in public office.

He said: “By making this statement in his official capacity he has conducted himself in a manner which is contrary to the council’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of behaviour.

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Coun Smith, who was elected in 2019, travelled to Fallbarrow Hall in Bowness between August 8 to 9 to celebrate his 50th birthday with family and friends.

Alecs LukicAlecs Lukic
Alecs Lukic

Photographs posted on social media showed the councillor posing for a group picture with friends as well as people gathered in a non-socially distanced way.

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service to comment on whether he had broken lockdown restrictions and failed to observe social distancing guidelines, Mr Smith said he had not.

He said he and the rest of his party 'took every reasonable measure' to ensure social distancing and safety.

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He said: “We were as sensible as we could be in the circumstances.”

Mr Smith's 'hypocritical' tweetMr Smith's 'hypocritical' tweet
Mr Smith's 'hypocritical' tweet

However Colne Valley Conservative MP Jason McCartney took a more measured view.

He said: “With people in Lindley and across Kirklees making huge personal sacrifices in following the rules to reduce the transmission of this deadly virus, it’s so important that elected politicians set an example.

“These Lib Dem councillors were all over social media criticising others for breaking the rules and now photos show they’ve been indulging in serious breaches of social distancing rules whilst having a party.

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“I know my constituents who have had to cancel weddings, miss funerals and not hug loved ones will take a real dim view of this careless behaviour.”

Coun John Lawson, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Kirklees Council, said: “No laws or local measures have been broken.

“Councillors have behaved responsibly in making extensive checks that their accommodation was Covid-19 compliant before going ahead with the trip.

“It's all too easy to see how muddled Conservative Government guidelines are causing concern even when people are sticking to the rules.”

Councillor Lukic said his formal complaint had been acknowledged by Kirklees Council.