Tagged: living dangerously

Labour councillor quits Sunderland City Council after benefit fraud conviction

Sunderland councillor Lisa Smiles, who was convicted of conning the local authority out of £2,000 after she failed to declare wages and her councillor’s allowance when claiming housing benefit., has resigned from both the Labour Party and the city council.

She admitted receiving £2,318 in payments she was not entitled to over a period of 12 months and was fined £150 when she appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

The departure  leaves a vacancy in her former ward of St Anne’s , however the council was unable to give details of if and when a by-election would be held.

A spokesman for the council said: “The city council can confirm a notice of resignation has been received from Lisa Smiles.”

A Labour North spokesman said: “Councillor Lisa Smiles was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2013 following her court appearance.

“She remained on suspension pending an internal investigation into her conduct. She has now resigned from the Labour Party and Sunderland Labour Group.”

The Tories, naturally tried to spin things to their own advantage – Tory councillor Lee Martin submitted a written question to council leader Paul Watson, asking whether he thought the “overwhelming majority” of people on benefits are in genuine need and whether cheats should be punished.

The implication being of course that anyone claiming benefits must be a bit dodgy on the grounds that the occasional person defrauds the system, but on that basis you might counter that the “overwhelming majority” of councillors probably fiddle their expenses, because one or two have been caught red-handed ( wouldn’t it be interesting to know what percentage of benefit claims are fraudulent as opposed to the the percentage of expenses fiddled by vcarious politicians ?).

Coun Watson said: “Benefits are there to support those in need,” adding that “abusing that system is diabolical and should be punished”.

He then quoted a section of CS Lewis’ theories on crime and punishment, then referred to “the self-righted retribution that some Tories would advocate.”

Coun Watson said that punishment should be done to deter and lead by example, not to exact revenge, adding that to do so would be “psychologically sick”.

Referring to Lisa Smiles, Coun Martin said there seemed to be “one rule for people in here, and one rule for others.” His comment was drowned out by protests from Labour councillors.

“One rule for people in here, and one rule for others.” Now that’s a dangerous game for a Tory to play ! Still, when your possee of councillors is so, er, compact, that they meet in a phone box, I guess there’s nothing to lose by living dangerously 😉

Source – Sunderland Echo  04 Feb 2014