THE Leader of Cheshire East Council has apologised after using his official Easter message to criticise other political parties and urge voters to ‘keep faith’ with the Conservative Party.
Cllr Michael Jones began his message by describing Easter as ‘lovely time’ when the ‘daffodils are out’ before segueing into claims that UKIP and Labour would ‘concrete across our countryside’.
This week the Bunbury ward member said: “On 17 April 2014 as Leader of the Council I issued an Easter Message which by mistake contained political statements and which I fully acknowledge should not have been issued by or linked to the council.
“The words in question were only ever intended to be issued by me personally and I apologise to the public, the council and all elected members for any harm that this error may have caused.
“I accept full responsibility for the issue of this statement and as Leader I have taken steps to tighten up the processes to ensure that a similar error could not be repeated in the future.”
The apology was sent internally to members of Cheshire East Council by the authority’s monitoring officer on April 29.
Cllr Brian Silvester said he has asked the officer to investigate whether the message broke purdah pre-election period guidance for the forthcoming European Parliament vote.
During the period, local government guidance recommends that during a set number of weeks prior to an election, the authority disengages from publishing material that might influence voters.
In the Easter message, Cllr Jones said: “Easter is always such a lovely time – the daffodils are out, children are excited about all the chocolate they’ll be given and the summertime is just around the corner. It represents a time of faith and the knowing that things are about to get brighter and, hopefully, better.”
Later in the message, he added: “I ask that the people of Cheshire East keep faith that the Conservatives will – and are –delivering the very best for our communities.
“Voting for UKIP is a vote for Labour, a party that would like to see an extra 200,000 homes in our communities built each year – yes! Each year!
“That would mean Cheshire East Council taking on some of Manchester’s housing quota which would be a disaster.
“So, voting UKIP or Labour means you are voting for unprecedented concrete across our countryside.”