Thursday, January 03, 2008

Conservative - Councillor on Drink Driving Charge

A councillor who has been charged with drink- driving has quit the Tory group on Torbay Council after he admits to being 'stupid'.

But Shiphay councillor Roger Kerslake, who is deputy chairman of the bay's licensing committee, has said he will stay on the council.Mr Kerslake, 64, was detained by police on Friday, December 28, after a car hit a wall in Torquay at 4.15pm.

A BMW hit the surrounding wall of the Inglenook Hotel in Belgrave Road, and police were called to the scene. A search was made for the driver and a man was arrested a short time later.

He was later bailed by police to appear in a Torbay court to face a charge of driving with excess alcohol. If convicted he faces at least a year ban from the road, plus a fine.

Mr Kerslake, who is retired, lives in Shiphay, and was elected to the council in May last year. Until his resignation from the Tory group yesterday he was deputy chairman of the council's licensing committee, and the council's representative on the Devon and Somerset fire authority.

He said: "I have yet to consult a solicitor but I shall be pleading guilty.

"I had been out to a bar for a drink.

"I admit I was the driver, it was my car and I had a breath- test which gave a reading of 77, almost double the legal limit.

"I resigned from the Conservative group as I felt stupid. I have let the group down and I feel I have to show remorse that what I did was the wrong thing to do."

He says at the moment he intends to stay on as a councillor.

"I shall have to wait to see what the court decides," he added.

"It was a stupid incident and I totally regret my actions."

He is due to appear at South Devon Magistrates Court in Torquay on January 17.

Leader of the Conservative Group Cllr Kevin Carroll, who is also Torbay's deputy mayor, said Mr Kerslake has resigned his membership of the party group and so loses all his posts on licensing and the fire authority.

Mr Carroll said: "I believe he is staying on as a councillor.

"He was elected by the people of Shiphay and I don't have the power to remove him as a councillor.

"We, as a group, do not condone this behaviour, but at the same time I believe he feels quite foolish and embarrassed about what was a silly thing to do.

"Unfortunately none of us is perfect and we make mistakes, but as a representative of the people we should be clear about the responsibility of a public position."

Mr Kerslake's resignation from the council Tories means they now have 23 councillors. The Lib-Dems have eight and Independents three, with one independent Lib-Dem and Mr Kerslake as an independent Conservative.


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