Friday, February 29, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Second ban for drink driving

SHAMED councillor Tony Rounthwaite has been caught drink-driving again.

The Liberal Democrat who represents Jesmond North on Newcastle City Council was more than twice the limit when he was arrested last Thursday.

In 2006, he was marginally over the required level and banned.

Now he has been convicted of being over the limit for the second time in two years - this time without a driving licence.

Rounthwaite resisted calls for him to quit as a councillor after his previous court appearance.

But he is facing a further political storm following his conviction last Friday at North Tyneside magistrates’ court.

Coun Nick Forbes, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “To commit an offence like this once is bad enough. To do it again shows a lack of respect for the law and a lack of regard for the consequences of his actions.

“If he doesn’t have the decency to resign, the Lib Dems should throw him out.’’

The 57-year-old, of Queen’s Road, Jesmond, was stopped on February 21 in Longbenton.

He appeared before North Shields magistrates the following day, where it was said he had 82 mgs of alcohol to 100 mls of breath - 35mgs is the legal limit.

Rounthwaite was convicted of drink driving and fined £200 with £43 costs.

Magistrates disqualified him from driving for three years and ordered him to complete a drink-driving rehabilitation course before 2010.

A police spokesman said: “He was convicted for driving above the limit and without a licence, fined £200 with costs, ordered to attend a drink drive rehabilitation course and disqualified from driving.”

Following his previous drink-drive offence, Rounthwaite, was forced to resign from three prominent posts.

He stepped down as the city council’s executive member for neighbourhood management and community, chairman of the Safe Newcastle Partnership and as a member of the Northumbria Police Authority.

His car was written-off in an accident eight days before May’s local elections.

Then he was driving along the A189 towards Blyth, and said a plastic bag blew on to his windscreen as he drove at about 60mph and he veered off the road.

No other vehicles were involved. Police also attended, and after the breath test proved borderline, he was asked to provide a blood sample at a police station.

He said at the time: “I’d had two glasses of wine. I certainly didn’t think I was over the limit or I wouldn’t have dreamed of driving.”

The resignations cut his income to just a quarter of his outgoings and a court was told then he may have to sell his home.

He refused to resign as a councillor and insisted it was business as usual .

Today Rounthwaite was unavailable for comment.

Coun John Shipley, the council’s Lib Dem leader, said: “Group officers have met and agreed to instigate disciplinary procedures and a hearing will be held.”


No comments: