Parking tickets censure is a joke, says ex-Lord Mayor of Leicester Robert Wann
Former Lord Mayor of Leicester Robert Wann has called a decision to censure him a "complete joke" after he was found to have breached the code of conduct.
The Labour politician brought his position as a councillor into disrepute by getting senior officers at the authority to cancel parking fines, according to a city council standards committee yesterday.
Coun Wann was not present at Leicester Town Hall yesterday as the hearing considered allegations he had five penalty tickets quashed by officials and that he secured a parking exemption permit to which he was not entitled.
Coun Wann had informed the committee he would be taking time off after his term as Lord Mayor finished last month.
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But committee chairman Jonathan Goolden decided to proceed in his absence.
Coun Wann said he intended to appeal against the decision because it was "unjust, unfair and unreasonable" to go ahead without him.
He said: "It's a complete joke. It should never have gone ahead without me there. I have been denied the right to have my say.
"If I had been there it would have been a very different outcome but I couldn't put my case. It's pathetic."
The committee debated whether to continue without Coun Wann and decided that although he had said in April that he would not be available, he had not given any specific reason.
The committee heard Coun Wann was given a parking exemption after complaining to senior officers that his large car would not fit into spaces in an underground car park at the council's New Walk HQ.
The permit allowed him to park on double yellow lines and was one that is normally only issued to nurses and doctors dealing with critical incidents.
After it expired at the end of 2009, Coun Wann, then a cabinet member, received three parking tickets, which were quashed after he presented them to senior council officers.
Independent investigator Jon Wigmore, who looked into the matter for the committee, said: "I think he applied pressure on senior officers. There was a degree of familiarity that approached friendship.
"He didn't think he needed to shout or thump the table. I think he just needed to turn up, put the ticket on the table and walk out of the room.
"He had given the tickets to senior officers and, in his words, expected them to go to ticket heaven."
Mr Wigmore said he did not think there was a specific request to quash the tickets.
He said two further tickets were cancelled in April 2010, after bailiffs turned up at Coun Wann's pub, the Dunton Bassett Arms, to recover the debt.
The committee heard an "extremely upset" Coun Wann called senior officers to complain.
Mr Wigmore said: "Coun Wann had access to senior officers. There is no doubt this led to a benefit."
The hearing was told Coun Wann made the call because he feared the bailiffs were bogus.
The committee concluded Coun Wann broke the code of conduct by acting in a way that compromised the impartiality of officers, by using his position to gain an advantage, in getting the tickets quashed, and obtaining the exemption.
Mr Goolden said a recent change in standards rules prevented the committee from suspending Coun Wann but he said it would have been considered had it been an option.
He said: "Coun Wann's actions were assisted by senior members of the council."