‘You have a total lack of judgement to lead Milton Keynes’ – leaders go for the jugular in advance of elections

Party leaders went for the political jugular as they seek the right to lead Milton Keynes Council after the local elections in May.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:59 pm

Labour council leader Pete Marland and top Tory Alex Walker questioned each other’s judgement and ability to lead the city at the last meeting of the full council before May 6.

Cllr Walker (Stantonbury) went on the attack over a decision not to sack former Labour councillor Shammi Akter last year, after she pleaded guilty to neglect for leaving her four-year-old son at home alone while she went out to work.

“As of today there remain unanswered questions that relate to your actions both as leader of the council and leader of the Labour group,” said Cllr Walker on Wednesday.

The now resigned Cllr Akter was suspended from the Labour group in the summer until she was sentenced on February 4, when she was handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence at Aylesbury Crown Court.

Cllr Walker said as the former Woughton & Fishermead councillor had pleaded guilty last November, action should have been taken then.

“Can you confirm why you took no action when Cllr Akter admitted guilt in November?” he said.

Cllr Marland said “appropriate action” was taken when a Crown Court passed judgement.

Cllr Marland

“A belief that anyone should have intervened or prejudiced a criminal proceeding or sought information was wholly and totally inappropriate,” he said.

Cllr Walker slammed Cllr Marland said action should have been taken after she admitted her guilt.

“It shows a desperate lack of judgement in you as a group leader and leader of the council, particularly considering the nature of the crimes” he said.

“When someone says ‘I’m guilty” that is the moment you act and you didn’t,” he said.

Cllr Walker

Cllr Marland said: “Asking a question for a political headline when there is a child involved in ongoing matters shows a total lack of judgement and why you should never run this council.”

Councillors snarled at the virtual meeting over the issue of dog thefts, which the Conservatives have been campaigning on. They’ve promised to set up a pet theft task force.

But Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell) accused the Conservatives of pursuing “shaggy dog stories”. And he urged an emphasis on violent crime rather than “chasing dog collars.”

Labour’s Cllr Lauren Townsend (Bletchley West), who admitted to owning a pooch called Obi Wan Kenobi Townsend, said of the five dog related incidents in MK, not one has been a theft by strangers.

The Conservatives also clashed with the Lib Dems over a handful of letters that the party had posted in Newport Pagnell.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr Douglas McCall was accused of “clinging to a record of shattered political integrity” over a decision to use party logos.

Cllr George Bowyer (Cons, Newport North & Hanslope) said they could have used neutral council paper.

Cllr McCall (Newport Pagnell South) said the letter was within the rules. He added that the Conservatives were trying to stop councillors communicating with residents.