The recently deposed leader of Wyre Council has spoken publicly for the first time since his ousting on a number of controversial Garstang issues which affected his time in office.
Coun Peter Gibson was toppled as leader of the council by his Conservative party colleagues, who claim he has a drink problem.
He vehemently denies those claims and in an interview spoke out over a number of highly controversial issues he has grappled with during his leadership.
Coun Gibson defended the move to sell off the old Garstang Council office.
l Responded to the alleged cancelling of a proposed walkout in protest at the sell-off
l He also spoke out about the St Thomas’ Hall funding offer
Coun Gibson denied he had a drink problem, adding: “I have done seven and a half years, and there are always councillors who are unhappy because you’ve either not promoted them or sacked them, so, yes, you are always living on borrowed time.”
Coun Peter Gibson was toppled as leader of both the ruling Conservative group and the council itself last month by his party colleagues who claim he has a drink problem.
He says his illness is due to diabetes and heart issues.
Now, free from the constraints of the top job, he has used his new-found liberty to respond to several local controversies over the past three years – issues on which he faced severe criticism from the Garstang community, pressure groups and the media.
He defended the move to market and sell-off the old Garstang Council offices and the (soon to be announced) formal sell-off of those offices to Keyworker Homes for a part-residential/part-retail development in the town centre.
He said the initial proposal had included an apartment block on High Street car park, which had been dropped following public consultation.
He said the change to the proposals had been discussed with several town councillors, and borough councillors Lady Dulcie Atkins and Alice Collinson. He said they were in favour of the scaled-down plans.
Asked about the Garstang St Thomas’s church hall funding offer, widely criticised as an election gimmick four years ago, Coun Gibson explained after agreeing to look into the possibility of £150,000 being given towards the completion of the new hall project, events progressed.
He added when St Thomas’s Church sold the old church hall and raised cash itself, there was no reason to give public money to the project.
He said: “I’m hesitant of disagreeing with the former vicar on this one, but that is what happened.”
Coun Gibson also responded to the alleged cancelling of what had been understood to be a proposed civic “walkabout” in Garstang two years ago this week - at the height of the anger over the old council offices / community centre sell-off plan.
Coun Gibson denied there had ever been a plan for a “walkabout.” He added: “I did not keep away. I was in Garstang that day and spoke to several people.”
It was reported at the time that the so-called “walkabout” had been cancelled due to councillors being fearful of protests from the public, including a pressure group which had put posters around the town (but then removed them).
The ousted leader also spoke candidly about recent events and denied he had a drinking problem.
The drink problem claim was made at last month’s special Wyre Council meeting when he was axed from the borough’s leadership after more than seven years in the chair.
He could not attend as he had already booked a holiday in Portugal, and was in the Algarve until returning to his Poulton home.
Commenting on the allegation, he said: “It is an absolute lot of nonsense. I do not think I have a drink problem.”
Expanding on the matter he said: “The worst thing I ever did was to go to a Well Man’s Clinic,” which he said had flagged up health issues.
He said the clinic visit led to a diagnosis of diabetes and blood pressure issues. He said the combination of the health issues and medication “had a real effect on me” adding that with some people the impact of the medication made it seem as if the person taking it was intoxicated or confused. “That is what it is,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chaos at Wyre Council continues as an investigation has been launched into its former leader.
Officers from Blackpool Council were called in following a damning email sent to council members by ousted leader Peter Gibson.
The email, which was sent on Friday, contained serious allegations against fellow council members.
An investigation is now underway as a Wyre Council spokesman said there was a “high likelihood that he has broken the Data Protection Act”, because “the email sent out contained names and information which had been given to Coun Gibson in confidence”.
But Coun Gibson has stood by his claims. He said: “It is all the truth. I absolutely stand by it.”