Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Tagged for drink driving

A DRINK-DRIVING parish councillor will stay in her post - despite a curfew and tagging order which makes it illegal for her to attend meetings.

Former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Kate Smith was given a 36-month driving ban, a community service order and a 7pm to 7am curfew, after being caught driving while over the alcohol limit.

She must wear an electronic tag which is linked to a tracking device in her house for 12 weeks.

But as Crich Parish Council meetings begin at 7.30pm, Ms Smith will be unable to attend until the curfew is served.

Ms Smith declined to comment, but said she had an agreement with her party that any subsequent press enquiries about the matter must be dealt with by regional party chairman Gavin Sarkas-Bosman.

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said: "It's a disappointment, but that has to be balanced with the good work Kate's been doing locally.

"But it's a serious offence for which she's got an appropriate punishment."

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said Ms Smith had the backing of the party and parish to continue as a councillor.

"It's a small parish council and she has a very supportve network of family and friends if driving becomes an issue.

"She will be able to ask questions and put forward her views in advance of meetings," he added.

Ms Smith was expected to stand as the Liberal Democrat's Amber Valley Borough Council candidate for Crich, but it was likely she will now be asked not to stand.

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said: "We have talked about it in the party and it's about getting a balance and she should consider carefully whether to put herself forward.

"I think it's a very strong possibility we would ask her to consider the appropriateness of that."

Ms Smith was found driving over the alcohol limit at the end of February and convicted at Derby magistrates court on March 11.

The driving ban could be shortened depending on Ms Smith's performance after 24 months.

Ms Smith stood as Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate in 2001 and 2005.


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