Council leader accused of misusing email to rally political support

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A council leader has been accused of breaking the rules by using his council email for political purposes.

East Riding Council confirmed they were looking into claims against Coun Steve Parnaby made by two former Conservative councillors who recently defected to UKIP.

It came after Coun Parnaby sent a rallying call to group colleagues using his council email address, asking them to turn out in Willerby and Kirk Ella on May 4, where Mike Whitehead and Mick Burchill are standing under the UKIP banner. The email said: “Some areas, of course, are more marginal than others, but none more so this year than in Willerby and Kirkella. I would like to ask as many members as possible to give up one hour in support of the three conservative (sic) candidates to really make an impact in the ward.”

A council spokesman said: “The code of conduct for members states that resources of the authority should not be used for political purpose. It would be down to the standards committee to decide if the code of conduct has been breached in any one instance.”

Coun Parnaby brushed off the complaint as “nothing more than electioneering” by the pair. He said: “I’ve written to all (group) members, it’s a private email, if someone wants to make that public it becomes different.”

But Coun Burchill said: “He’s panicking, as I only won this seat last November with an increased turnout and majority.”