Labour’s representatives on Sandbach Town Council have joined forces to call on Independent councillor David Jack to resign.
They have cited a catalogue of reasons, including “repeatedly breaching the code of conduct”, “showing no respect for fellow councillors or town council staff”, “inappropriate and disruptive behaviour at public meetings” and his “inappropriate language, that is often discriminatory to minority groups and individuals”
However, Coun Jack said he would not be quitting, adding: “I have, and I always will, call out failings and challenge those that attempt to keep silent those of us who are willing to make a stand and not be brow beaten into submission.”
And Coun Gill Merry, leader of the Conservative Group at the town hall, said: “It’s not up to others to force him to do one thing or another.”
Labour’s letter calling on him to quit was signed by its eight town councillors in Sandbach and appears in this edition of the Chronicle.
Coun Jack, who was elected uncontested to Town Ward, has been the subject to several official complaints to the monitoring officer at Cheshire East about his behaviour, including his use of social media and claims that he breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
More recently he has been banned from contacting town council staff amid claims of bullying and because the messages have caused offence.
Calling for him to quit, the Labour representatives’ letter says: “Elected and co-opted councillors are required to sign and agree to abide by a code of conduct based on the Nolan principles of public office.
“Coun David Jack has repeatedly breached this code of conduct and continues to do so on a daily basis. His use of inappropriate language, that is often discriminatory to minority groups and individuals, is unacceptable. He administrates a Facebook group that often uses racist language and promotes discrimination.”
Previously, Coun Jack was the administrator of a Facebook group where the picture of a Ku Klux Klan cloak was posted following one of Sandbach Black Lives Matters group’s protests in the town last year.
Coun Jack said he took the post down as soon as he became aware of it.
The letter said: “He has shown that he has no respect for his fellow councillors or members of the town council staff and has regularly sent bullying and abusive emails, as well as using defamatory language to criticise staff and councillors on social media.
He has, on several occasions, insulted members of the public in an offensive and intimidating way, both publicly and via emails.”
Last week, Sandbach mayor Coun Geraint Price Jones issued a statement defending town council staff saying that councillors had given them a vote of confidence as they were unable to defend them in public.
The Labour councillors’ letter said: “Coun Jack has been found guilty of breaching confidentiality of council business by Cheshire East’s monitoring officer but this did not cause him to change his behaviour and he has continued to share confidential information regarding staff and other matters on social media. He has declined the offer to engage in training on use of social media and also refused to agree to abide by the council’s social media policy.
“His behaviour at public meetings is often inappropriate and disruptive, and he openly shows his contempt for the council’s business by, for example, using his phone throughout meetings, reading the paper, playing the guitar, and not taking part in voting on agenda items.”
At a recent town council meeting, Coun Jack called the committee chair an “arsehole” as he was being unmuted from a Zoom meeting after repeatedly asking a question about a report into his bullying of staff, which he said never existed.
“As someone who lacks integrity, honesty, selflessness and respect for others, and is unable to moderate his behaviour, David Jack is totally unsuitable for public office and we believe he should step down, allowing someone else to take up his place who is willing to work for the good of the town and its residents in a way that shows respect for others and does not bring the council into disrepute,” the letter said.
In his response, Coun Jack, who recently branded his political opponents as “scum” after Labour Coun Laura Crane expressed regret he could not be removed from his post, told the Chronicle: “Of course it suits Labour to call for my resignation. Their letter smacks of the contempt they have for democracy. They often refer to me as unelected, when in fact I was duly elected uncontested.
“As an active and hardworking councillor. I have assisted many members of the public with issues and brought forward a huge number of members’ items including events, improving financial accountability, installing lifesaving equipment and tackling inefficiency at council.
“It is my role and my duty as an elected member of the council to call to account budgets that use the public purse and to challenge decisions that are not in the best interests of the tax payers and the residents.”
He added: “At no time have I ever condoned any racist behaviour or language. I have not written or commented on any racist posts. As an admin of a group, I removed many posts and banned posters of such material as soon as I was made aware of such posts. To link me to such odious people is just nonsense. No proof has ever been provided to the contrary and all standards complaints against me for such have been dismissed as without merit or evidence.”
Coun Jack said: “If calling out party political bullies, name shaming people who mislead the public and standing up for the tax payers’ purse against a group of councillors that twist everything to suit their agenda and hide their uncaring and hurtful, spiteful budget cuts that hurt the vulnerable and financially disadvantage people of our town, then I make no apology for it if these same elected councillors themselves feel the heat from the electorate.
“If Labour members are so offended by my working class use of language and my dogged determination to defend myself against such ludicrous and unfounded accusations then it is they that need to reflect and take stock of their partisan bullying pile-on and perhaps resign themselves. Socialism has a clear pattern of wanting to dictate and control all free expression and freedom of thought and the recent actions by these cult members goes to enforce this view.
“Meantime, I will continue to work for my constituents and town and help make Sandbach grow and continue to be the nice, welcoming friendly town we all love and know it for.”
Coun Merry said no one from Labour had asked the Conservative councillors if they we are in agreement with the resignation call.
She said: “I think there certainly have been some issues between Labour members and Coun Jack and we’ve come in for some comments from time to time.
“We are all in agreement that we fully support our staff. There have been comments made about staff that no councillor upholds. It’s been a difficult time for everyone, and we are very mindful of the situation for staff and that they are working from home. We have a duty of care to them in any event.
“My personal view is that I do not think there was any need for the name calling. I’m sure the situation can be resolved in a reasonable manner and in language we are used to using.”
In respect of supporting Coun Jack in his unsuccessful bid to become Sandbach’s deputy mayor last year, she said: “At the time I felt he would have been a reasonable mayor. I would not have recommended him otherwise.
“There was a time at the town council when political parties took turns in respect of the next mayor.
“Many of David Jack’s ideas are highly commendable, they gel with members of the public.”
As for Labour’s call for him to resign, Coun Merry said: “It is always for someone to make that decision. It’s not up to others to force him to do one thing or another. But he does need to moderate his language.”