Defeated Tories under fire for still claiming councillor titles on Facebook

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Dan Poole
Dan Poole (left) and James Binns before they lost their council seats in the May 2019 elections 

TWO Conservatives who were defeated in the New Forest local elections have come under fire for maintaining Facebook pages still showing them as councillors more than three months later.

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James Binns, who is chair of the New Forest East Conservative Association, and Dan Poole lost their district and parish council seats to the Liberal Democrats in the vote on 2nd May.

But since then both their Facebook pages have been carrying “Councillor” in front of their names under their photos.

Lib Dem Cllr Mark Clark, a member of New Forest District Council, said it was “outrageous” for the pair to suggest they remained elected members.

Cllr Clark said: “We have made a number of representations to both the local Tory party and the district council for these pages to be removed, but they remain live on Facebook.”

He threatened to raise the issue of the page with the council again at the next “open forum”.

Mr Binns, a former cabinet member, was first elected to New Forest District Council in 2011 and represented the Butts Ash and Dibden Purlieu ward until May, when he also lost his Hythe and Dibden Parish Council seat.

Dan Poole lost his Dibden and Hythe East seat on NFDC and was also ejected by the voters from Hythe and Dibden Parish Council.

Overall, the Conservatives held on to power in NFDC with a large majority of 32 on the 60-strong council.

Mr Poole told the A&T the Lib Dems’ complaint was a “non-story” because he had been co-opted by Fawley Parish Council and was therefore still a councillor.

Elsewhere on his Facebook page he admits to being a “former” councillor, but claims to be a Fawley parish councillor for the Blackfield and Langley ward.

However, Mr Poole has only applied to be co-opted – the process in which a council agrees to take on a new member to fill a vacancy without an election.

Although he is the sole applicant, he has not yet formally taken the seat which must be approved by the full parish council. Their next meeting is on 4th September.

Mr Binns denied his Facebook entry was misleading but told the A&T this week he had “no issues” with changing the name.

He pointed out that clicking on the “about me” section of the page, which he set up in 2016 and has 151 followers, showed he had ceased being a councillor this year.

He said neither the Lib Dems nor NFDC had made any approaches to him to alter the page, and since the election no residents had contacted him through it.

“If only I’d been asked politely by the Lib Dems rather than causing an unnecessary fuss. What an absurd situation for a page which has been effectively defunct for several months,” he said.

NFDC did not respond to questions from the A&T about what action it can take against people allegedly purporting to be councillors.

As reported in the A&T, earlier this year a former Wellow parish councillor, Harmeet Singh Brar, refused to amend his claims to still be a member six months after resigning.

The council responded by publicly shaming him into making changes by issuing a statement on its website accusing him of a “gross misrepresentation of the facts”.

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