Some councillors in Greater Lincolnshire fear the latest “Partygate” scandals rocking government could hit them hard in upcoming elections this week.
In the latest news Number 10 has had to apologise to the Queen after it was revealed two parties were held in Downing Street the day Prince Philip’s funeral when she was photographed sitting alone and isolated from her family due to the coronavirus restrictions at the time.
In Birmingham last night, the Sutton Coldfield Conservative Constituency Association voted unanimously that they had no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson and that he should resign.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked all the local Conservative leaders for the district and upper tier councils for their thoughts on the situation.
North East Lincolnshire Council leader Councillor Philip Jackson told the LDRS: “Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the lockdown party issue, it is not helping the image of the Conservative Party or our opinion poll ratings.”
The authority was one of several previously red seats which the Tories took during local elections in 2019, but it is thought that red seat voters may have leant their support to the party at the time to get Brexit over the line.
“With a local government by-election coming up in NEL on February 17 and a third of the council seats coming up for re-election in May, I’m obviously concerned about the effect it may have on our local election results,” said Councillor Jackson.
City of Lincoln Conservative Group leader Thomas Dyer said he was concerned about the latest revelations.
“For the last two years, the people of Lincoln and indeed the United Kingdom have followed the guidance as set out by the government.
“The events at Number 10, which have come to light in recent days and weeks, are concerning.
“In respect to the Prime Minister’s future – this is in the gift of Conservative MPs, via their well set out procedures.”
However, he said the Sutton Coldfield vote would have “no bearing on the process”.
The latest party revelations, which have suggested there were people drinking and dancing to music, and that one civil servant was sent shopping with a suitcase to fill with bottles of wine, have sparked an apology from the Prime Minister’s former director of communications.
Likewise, Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” lockdown party in the Downing Street garden.
The revelations have sparked calls from opposition party members and some on Boris Johnson’s own side for him to resign.
An investigation is being carried out into a series of events and gatherings parties which have been revealed in recent days and weeks.
It is being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray and several queries have previously been batted off until her findings are revealed.
East Lindsey District Council leader Craig Leyland said he fully understood the concerns of local residents.
“The events are still being looked at by the investigation, but it’s very clear that what has happened in Westminster has burned up an awful lot of good will with the public.
“As a local district council leader I know how hard we have worked locally to deliver for our residents through the pandemic – supporting the NHS, our healthcare workers and are wellbeing teams to support residents”.
He also pointed to the support offered to local businesses, adding: “It’s a shame it’s being distracted from by what’s happening at Westminster.”
Boston Borough Council leader Paul Skinner said: “I like to be in possession of facts before making comment, I believe there is an independent investigation running which has yet to rule.”
However, he added: “How soon people forget the good works done.”
Downing Street staff drank into the early hours at two leaving dos the night before Prince Philip’s funeral.
— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) January 13, 2022
Likewise, North Kesteven District Council leader Councillor Richard Wright said he had “no comment on the national issue as that is for parliament and the enquiry to resolve”.
He added: “At NK, the Conservatives and indeed all members remain committed to delivering vital services and assisting our residents with any and all issues.”
A spokesman for (Conservative) Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said he had no comment to make at the time of the request.
South Holland District Council Lord Gary Porter only responded to suggest contacting the South Holland and The Deepings Conservative Association.
Kevin Geaney, Chairman of the association said the association would “await the outcome of the inquiry before we formulate a reply.”
Other council leaders had not responded at by the time of publication.