Row erupts over ‘arrogant’ speech

Coun David Owen

Coun David Owen

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A ROW has broken out after a councillor was accused of using a tribute to retiring authority chief executive Steve Weaver to score political points.

Tory councillor Tony Williams was angered after a speech made by Labour’s Coun David Owen referenced the failings of the Conservatives in Blackpool.

Before congratulating the outgoing boss, the Victoria ward councillor gave a political history of the resort, highlighting the successes of his party.

But Coun Tony Williams, deputy leader of the Tory party, said: “Coun Owen should stand down immediately or be sacked or severely disciplined by the Leader for his behaviour and contempt for the occasion.

“He took a special moment when both parties were paying a heartfelt display of gratitude of Steve’s excellent contribution to the development of our great town to deliver a self indulgent, arrogant and smug biased political history of Blackpool.”

But Coun Owen refused to withdraw his remarks.

He said: “I can understand why my contribution to the tributes did not go down too well in some quarters.

“I may have misjudged the hour and the mood.

“I clearly went on too long in giving the historical background, to which many members took exception.

“I do not resile in any way from what I said.

“Steve’s contribution must be seen in a much longer timeframe than the decade in which he has served Blackpool and its citizens so well.

He inherited a badly damaged local economy. His successful initiatives – seen against years of under-investment, both in the private and the public sector – are all the more remarkable.”

Coun Williams intervened during Coun Owen’s speech and objected.

Deputy mayor Coun Allan Matthews, who chaired the meeting did ask Coun Owen to “get to the point”, but today backed his party colleagues outburst.

He said: “I don’t think he has disgraced the party at all.”