Gosport councillors clash over business rates dispute

TENSIONS between two senior councillors reached a boiling point at a council meeting last night.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 9:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 11:04 pm
Gosport Council leader Mark Hook

Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Mark Hook, and leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Cllr Peter Chegwyn, clashed heads over an ongoing dispute into Cllr Hooks business rates on his old high street shop, ELJ Furnishing.

The council leader had taken 50 months to repay a business rates debt on the shop, which was repaid in full when the shop was sold earlier this year.

But Cllr Chegwyn remains adamant that Cllr Hook received special treatment, as other businesses faced legal action for debts of less money.

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The argument reached a fever pitch at full council last night, as Cllr Hook criticised the Liberal Democrat for being 'abhorrent' in his calls for council officers to resign - while Cllr Chegwyn insisted that it's 'one rule for you, and one for everyone else'.

Cllr Chegwyn said: 'On eight occasions you broke agreements to pay - and not every member of the public can do as you can and pop in for a chat with officers.

'Why is it one law for you and one for everyone else?'

Cllr Hook responded: 'That's not the case.

'What I find abhorrent is that Cllr Chegwyn bullies the council officers and says they should resign.

'It's one thing to have political differences but I think it's another when you ask for council officers to step down.

'˜If you think you have to attack council officers like that then think again '“ because if you did end up winning the next election, these are the people you would be working alongside.

'˜By all means attack me '“ I have no problem with that '“ I expect that and am happy with it, but not them.'

Cllr Chegwyn, still not satisfied with the council leader's answer, continued to press him on the matter.

He said: '˜When I was one day late with council tax I got a summons '“ and yet you can pay your debts 50 months late.'

Cllr Hook said: '˜At the end of the day, I can sleep at night knowing I didn't do anything wrong.

'˜It's not my fault you can't control your finances '“ the message to the public is to come and talk to us.

'˜There are plenty of opportunities for debt counselling and so on; the best thing to do is not bury your head in the sand.

'˜I will not be taking advice on morality from this man.'