Fareham deputy mayor quits as taxi firm complains he threatened its licence

A COUNCILLOR has resigned after a taxi firm complained he allegedly said he would withdraw its licence for refusing him service.

Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 9:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 12:12 pm
Former councillor Chris Wood

Chris Wood, who was deputy mayor of Fareham until he resigned his position, was once dubbed the ‘next Nigel Farage’ when he rose to prominence within Ukip.

But The News understands the 28-year-old, who defected to the Tories last year, was hauled before Fareham Borough Council bosses this week over the allegations.

A source told The News: ‘He got called into the chief executive’s office, as there had been a complaint from the public.’

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Former councillor Chris Wood

The source said before Mr Wood went on holiday a couple of weeks ago he ‘started shouting, threatening to withdraw the licence’ of the taxi firm. It is understood this was in a call to the owner of the unnamed taxi firm.

Fareham Borough Council has confirmed an investigation was started when the owner of a taxi company filed a complaint about Mr Wood – but has refused to confirm any further details.

Asked by The News about the allegations, Mr Wood said: ‘I’ve got enough things to worry about. I start work on Monday. I’m a private citizen.’

Mr Wood, who was elected to Stubbington ward in Fareham borough in 2014, was given the chain of deputy mayor in May – but on Wednesday resigned from the council.

Former councillor Chris Wood

In a statement before the allegations were put to him, Mr Wood said: ‘I leave my position with a very heavy heart because I have loved being a councillor for the past four-and-a-half years, however circumstances are such that I don’t believe I am able to continue.

‘I’m very sorry to those who have supported me.’

He is due to start a job at the Ministry of Defence on Monday and move to Reading.

Residents in Stubbington ward can expect to go to the polls in November to elect a replacement.

Asked why Mr Wood, a former Bay House School pupil, was resigning, council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘Personal reasons he’s cited.’

George McAleese, chairman of Gosport Conservatives – which covers Stubbington – said it was a ‘pity’.

He said: ‘It’s a pity because he is a very good politician.’

Warsash ward councillor Trevor Cartwright said: ‘He’s worked very well, mainly in his own ward and as deputy mayor.’

Mr Wood, a Royal Navy reservist, was elected to Stubbington ward in May, 2014 and was due to stand again in May next year.

Until last year he was Crofton division councillor at the county council, having been elected in 2013 as a Ukip candidate.

He has previously stood for election as Ukip’s MP candidate in Gosport in 2015.

A Fareham Borough Council spokeswoman said: ‘The council received a formal complaint from the owner of a taxi company regarding Chris Wood.

‘As with every case when there might be a complaint about a councillor, the matter was passed to the council’s monitoring officer for investigation. This investigation is now concluded.’

Cllr Carolyn Heneghan, for Ukip, is the only Stubbington ward member in post.