An Eastleigh councillor accused of being a road tax dodger by his former colleagues has been forbidden from driving an untaxed vehicle on council owned land.
The bizarre punishment was handed out after a probe by Eastleigh council’s standards committee into allegations that Independent Councillor Glynn Davies-Dear had been driving his car without a valid tax disc.
It also lifts the lid on the internecine warfare that broke out following last year’s split in local Lib Dem ranks.
In January 2011 Glynn Davies-Dear, a popular Eastleigh Central councillor and former mayor of the Borough, headed a high profile split from the Liberal Democrats taking councillors Andy Moore and Dave Broughton with him.
The breakaway trio formed the Independent Group of Eastleigh Councillors with Davies-Dear as leader, claiming they were unhappy with Lib Dem coalition policies.
“It’s a matter of integrity” said Glynn Davies-Dear at the time “you live and die by it.”
In May Andy Moore lost his Central Eastleigh seat to the Lib Dem candidate Keith Trenchard. However this lead to Glynn Davies-Dear making a complaint to the police regarding Trenchard’s election leaflet which falsely stated that that the coach driver was an ‘experienced local councillor’.
Days later, Cllr Davies-Dear also lodged a complaint with the Election Commission in which he alleged that there were irregularities in Chris Huhne’s election expenses.
The complaint made national news headlines by 20 May and resulted in small group of journalists staking out Eastleigh’s civic offices in an attempt to question Cllr Anne Winstanley (Mr Huhne’s agent) over the allegations.
Subsequently on investigation, both of Cllr Davies-Dear’s complaints were dismissed, however they were very much alive and in the news when a few days later he found himself on the receiving end of Lib Dem attention.
On the 24 May Davies-Dear, then also a Bishopstoke parish councillor, attended its AGM at the Methodist hall on Sedgewick road.
Davies-Dear had picked his untaxed car up from the Roddington Forge workshop on Allington Lane where it had been MOT’d.
It is legal to drive a car with no tax to and from MOT appointments and Cllr Davies-Dear claims he stopped en-route to his home to attend the meeting.
Newly created Cllr Trenchard , and fellow Lib Dem councillors Chris Thomas and Paul Bicknell -who claim to have been in the area by chance – noticed the Independent councillor’s unlicensed vehicle outside the meeting hall.
Eastleigh News understands the councillors attempted to report the car as an abandoned vehicle but this failed to produce a response.
Glynn Davies-Dear told Eastleigh News what happened next:
“The police called me, I told them about the MOT and they took no further action, I have not been prosecuted or fined What did happen was Cllrs Thomas, Bicknell and Trenchard then laid in wait and filmed me driving home. Cllr Bicknell then put in the complaint to the Council’s Standards Committee with the film evidence.”
At the standards committee hearing on 22 February a panel of three committee members heard how the Lib Dem councillors had followed Cllr Davies-Dear home while filming him.
Cllr Trenchard was driving; Cllr Bicknell was filming while Chris Thomas was a passenger.
However the panel also heard that the investigating officer who viewed the date stamped film found it impossible to determine from the footage if the car was being driven by Cllr Davies-Dear.
The panel also heard that Cllr Davies-Dear’s car had been untaxed since May 2010 and that Councillor Bicknell had disclosed to the investigating officer that Davies-Dear had received a conviction for driving without a tax disc in 2007.
Cllr Davies-Dear told Eastleigh News that he had successfully appealed against the 2007 conviction. The conviction had been widely known about at the time but his Lib Dem colleagues had not reported him to the standards committee on that occasion, proof said Davies-Dear, that the complaint was ‘party politics’.
The council’s investigating officer concluded that since the vehicle had been untaxed, uninsured and without a SORN declaration for a significant amount of time – contrary to legislation – Cllr Davies-Dear had therefore brought the office of councillor into disrepute.
Cllr Davies-Dear stuck to his story that he had been entitled to drive the vehicle back from an MOT appointment but he was unable to substantiate it with documentation claiming the MOT tester had since gone out of business.
The panel however, decided that the councillor must have taken a detour in the untaxed car in order to attend the meeting and upheld Cllr Bicknell’s complaint.
They told Cllr Davies-Dear that he was banned from driving untaxed vehicles on council property and that they would post a public notice detailing the circumstances of the complaint and the committee’s judgement in the Echo – which was published last week.
Cllr Davies-Dear , who is up for re-election in May, emphasised to Eastleigh News that he had been found guilty despite there being no criminal case to answer and accused the Lib Dems of pursuing a personal vendetta against his party.
“That is local politics these days. I never thought of LIB Dems as the “Nasty Party” until last year when their true nature showed itself.
“You have to appreciate that, when a party gets so big that there is no real opposition, it begins eating itself.”
A Lib Dem councillor- who did not wish to be named commented:
“It’s sad really, after years of service to the community that it should end like this”