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Sowden Suspended as Councillor

John Freeman
Councillor Keith Sowden, Lancaster City councillor for the Overton ward, will be suspended for a period of 28 days from today until 19th December and will be unable to perform official council duties, including ward work, during that period.

The suspension was ordered by a Hearings Sub-Committee of the council’s Standards Committee, after Councillor Sowden refused to apologize to fellow councillors for a series of insults he made in emails, or to undergo training as required by the sub-committee.

Coun Morgwn Trolinger who reported Coun Sowden to the Standards committee after receiving five emails she said were in breach of the councillor code of conduct.

Earlier this year, Councillow Sowden was told to send written apologies to Coun Chris Coates, Professor Paylor, a university professor he also criticised by email for his use of English in an email copied to all councillors after he protested at cuts to The Dukes funding, and all other city councillors.

Councillor Sowden is known for his outspoken views. He has objected to the recently-introduced Food Waste scheme, for example and micro-chipped wheelie bins the Council has never used.

In 2008, he had his membership from the Conservative group withdrawn after voting against the party after he "voted with his conscience" against plans to create Morecambe Town Council.

Both Councillor Coates and Professor Paylor said they had not been offended by the e-mails.

Although Councillor Coates supported the committee's ruling requesting an apology and retraining, he told local papers a "simple apology" would have been fine with him. 

Councillor Sowden, who is himself a university lecturer, described the original hearing as "a total waste of trees that have sacrificed their lives, and a large waste of money when we have got none".

• Should residents of the Overton ward need the assistance of a city councillor during the period of the suspension, they should contact Councillor Paul Woodruff, the city councillor for Halton-with-Aughton, telephone 01524 811770.

Standards Committee Case Summary 6th September 2010 - Councillor Keith Sowden (PDF File)