A former mayor of Eastleigh has compared the Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council to “God Almighty’ saying “power has gone to head” after a small but determined group of Ukip activists staged a protest demo outside the civic offices yesterday (Tuesday 9 Dec).
The protestors called on EBC Leader Cllr Keith House to break his silence over an affair local Ukip’rs have dubbed as “Housegate.”
Cllr House had previously been in a long term with one of his eight-strong cabinet team but his relationship with the councillor – Louise Bloom – broke down earlier this year.
Cllr House subsequently entered into a relationship with another councillor, Tonia Craig, who is separated from her husband.
Craig was recently appointed to the cabinet. Since then Cllr Bloom – House’s former partner – has not attended any cabinet meetings.
The story came to public attention after Cllr bloom called Cllr House a “liar and a cheat” on social media.
So far, Cllr House has maintained what the Daily Echo has described as a ‘wall of silence’ and has refused to talk to the press.
The Echo has published a series of articles on the “Council Love Triangle “ and compared House to former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il also describing his refusal to talk to the press as “arrogant” and the elevation of Cllr Craig to the cabinet as a “swing vote too far.”
Local Lib Dems have insisted that although cabinet positions are the prerogative of the Leader, Cllr Craig was democratically elected to the post by the party group.
Eastleigh Borough Council has told Eastleigh News that they consider the matter to be a private one adding that council rules have not been breached by any of those involved either in respect of appointments or attendance.
A friend of Louise Bloom has also told Eastleigh News that Bloom has been too unwell to attend cabinet meetings although she is still actively working on behalf of residents.
However Ukip say that there is a conflict of interest in the current cabinet arrangements and Cllr House should make a statement to clarify his position or else resign and face a ‘back me or sack me’ by-election.
They also say that the current council administration that has been dominated by the Lib Dems for the last 20 years is unhealthy for democracy and that the current leader and cabinet system puts too much power in the hands of one person and should be scrapped.
Former Mayor Glynn Davies-Dear was a long serving Lib Dem Eastleigh councillor and is familiar with Keith House’s leadership style.
Davies-Dear left the Lib Dems in 2013 to sit as an Independent after he became disillusioned with the party following the formation of the Lib/Con coalition and MP Chris Huhne’s affair, as a result Davies says he fell out of favour with the local Lib Dem leadership.
Davies-Dear joined Ukip last year along with fellow ex Lib Dem councillor Andy Moore and is now chair of Eastleigh Ukip branch while Andy Moore is the Deputy Leader of the Ukip group on Hampshire County Council having won the Eastleigh East division in last year’s county elections.
Speaking to Eastleigh News outside the civic offices Davies-Dear said:
“No one should be criticising him (Keith House) because things happen in his love life, but if you are in a position like Keith House and what you do creates worry in the mind of the people who pay for him to be there then you have to be upright and you’ve got to tell people what is going on.
The impression he is giving us is that he is treating the council like his own property, that he can do what he likes with it to further his own interests, when you give that impression you are bring the council into disrepute.
He has been doing a good job for a long time but when power goes to your head you are going to make mistakes.
Get too much power and you get to the point when you think you are God Almighty.
You can do what you like and you are answerable to no one.
In Eastleigh Borough council if you upset Keith you are out, so you can’t afford to do it – he has got the power.
We have to get rid of the whole cabinet system, it’s undemocratic.
Forty out of forty-four councillors is not democracy, it is a one party state.”
Ukip County Councillor Chris Lagdon said:
“You can’t be a leader and hide.
There is only one controller of this council and that is Keith House – it’s a pseudo dictatorship.”
Cllr Andy Moore added:
“Seven days of not saying anything is not good enough, he is in a public position.
This situation is untenable, he needs to come and speak to the public.”
The protesting Ukip activists had parked their Ukip battle bus outside the council offices to draw attention to the their action but in the process they also drew the attention of a passing traffic warden.
Councillor House reacted to the demonstration on twitter describing it as :
“A motley collection of other party rejects and failed candidates with an illegally parked bus.
Both local Labour and Conservative politicians have already branded the ‘Housegate’ saga as a ‘distraction’ from the ‘real issues’ facing people in Eastleigh.