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Council chief executive quits after he was found to have breached rules over Tory voter tweet

Council chief executive quits after he was found to have breached rules over tweet expressing surprise that Tory voter had ‘compassion and empathy for others’

  • Steven Pleasant, head of Tameside council in Greater Manchester, has resigned
  • He breached government acts after he tweeted a remark about a Tory voter 
  • Mr Pleasant had been the head of the authority’s paid service for 13 years 

A council chief executive has quit after he was found to have breached rules over a tweet expressing surprise that a Tory voter had ‘compassion and empathy for others’.

Steven Pleasant, head of Tameside council in Greater Manchester, was found to have breached government acts after he tweeted a remark about a Tory audience member on BBC’s Question Time.

During the short clip of the show, the audience member is heard telling Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire, that his government are a ‘disappointment’.

But, in a now-deleted tweet, posted from his official chief executive account on March 25, Mr Pleasant replied: ‘She was good. Tory voter with compassion and empathy for others. Who knew!!’

Mr Pleasant, who earns £220,000 a year, had been head of the authority’s paid service for 13 years and oversaw the local elections on 5 May, reports Manchester Evening News.

Steven Pleasant, head of Tameside council in Greater Manchester, was found to have breached government acts after he tweeted a remark about a Tory audience member on BBC’s Question Time

Although Mr Pleasant has since apologised for the tweet and said it was ‘not considered’ and he ‘should have worded any sentiments very differently’ – but the tweet was due to be discussed at a full council meeting on 14 June.

However he resigned with ‘immediate effect’ and announced in advance he would be stepping down from his role.

Meanwhile, a report by Tameside council, concluded that he had breached the statutory code for local authority publicity, meaning he had broken the rule of strict impartiality.

The report by Tameside’s monitoring officer, Sandra Stewart, stated: ‘A politically restricted officer, such as pre-eminently a statutory officer, must not express themselves publicly in a way that appears to have the intention of affecting public support for a political party.’ 

But, in the now-deleted tweet (pictured), posted from his official chief executive account on March 25, Mr Pleasant replied: 'She was good. Tory voter with compassion and empathy for others. Who knew!!'

But, in the now-deleted tweet (pictured), posted from his official chief executive account on March 25, Mr Pleasant replied: ‘She was good. Tory voter with compassion and empathy for others. Who knew!!’

She added that legal precedent has set out that a breach of the duty of political impartiality ‘could not be dealt with during the elections nor at the annual council meeting, and hence the timing of this report’. 

The report said the breach was aggravated by its ‘proximity’ to the May 5 local elections six weeks later, which Mr Pleasant went on to run as returning officer. However, they decided that ‘no further action’ was required.

Doreen Dickinson, Conservative group leader at Tameside, tweeted that he had ‘broken all the ethics but will still run the TMBC elections’.

She added: ‘Steven Pleasant is paid by you the council tax payer, a salary over £220,000 and if you are a Conservative voter he doesn’t like you.

‘Problem is we can’t divide Conservative voters’ money from Labour voters’ money and he happily accepts it all. This can’t be right.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk