Worlingham drink drive councillor gets Lowestoft town hall committee post

Shamed north Suffolk councillor Andrew Draper has been voted onto a Waveney District Council committee – only five weeks after he admitted drink driving and assaulting a police officer.

Mr Draper was selected to join the council's audit and risk management committee at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday after receiving the backing of his former colleagues on the Conservative group.

The Worlingham councillor's role will be to act as independent scrutiny of the council's financial and non-financial performance, oversee its financial reporting process and look at internal and external audit work.

But as Mr Draper was voted onto his new post, the opposition Labour group questioned the wisdom of having a councillor with two criminal convictions on the committee.

Mr Draper was chosen for the committee as an independent councillor after he resigned from the council's Conservative group in early September for his drink driving and assault of a police officer offences.

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Because Mr Draper, who lives in Carlton Colville, had stood down as a Tory it triggered a reshuffle of committee seats as the new balance of power meant the Conservatives had to relinquish a committee seat to an independent member.

His resignation also means the Conservatives now have to rely on Mr Draper and chairman Peter Collecott to win council votes as the party has less seats than Labour and needs both independent member's votes to win crunch decisions.

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Despite being an independent councillor, at Wednesday's meeting Mr Draper sat between senior Conservative Mark Bee, former council leader, and Stephen Ardley, deputy council leader.

And he voted on the same lines as his former Tory colleagues – including the decision to give him the new post.

Speaking for the Labour group on Wednesday night Ian Graham, of Lowestoft's Harbour Ward, questioned if Mr Draper should be handed the new role.

He said: 'It is not appropriate for someone with his reputation to be sitting on it (the committee).'

During the vote for Mr Draper's new role the Labour group abstained as the vote was in a bundle of six other decisions being voted on.

All the Conservatives present voted in favour of the bundle of decisions, which included who would represent the council on outside bodies and the make up of the overview and scrutiny committee.

After the meeting, Labour leader Julian Swainson re-issued his call for Mr Draper to resign as councillor so a by-election will be triggered.

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