After almost two years, the Conservative Government has still not honoured a promise to make it illegal for anyone who is a convicted sex offender to stand or remain in public office as a Councillor or elected Mayor, and Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, is “deeply disappointed” by the failure of the Government to act.
In March 2017, Councillor Sykes backed a motion brought to Council by the then Leader of the Council that called on the government to ban sex offenders from public office. Later that year, the government launched a lengthy public consultation on its proposal to do so to which Oldham Council responded in support, but it was not until October 18 of the following year that Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP said that the government would “strengthen” the law.
After two years of patiently waiting, Councillor Sykes has had enough. At the start of October, he sent a letter to his parliamentary colleague, Baroness Kath Pinnock, who is the Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson on Communities and Local Government matters, outlining the case for change, with a suggested question for her to ask of Government Ministers.
Councillor Sykes said: “It is time now to rattle the cage of Government and get them to take some action. Rishi Sunak promised to ‘identify a suitable legislative opportunity’ to change the law and I think it is inexcusable that they have not found a time or place to do so over the last two years. To update the law would require only a small change to the wording of the 1972 Local Government Act to disbar sex offenders from public office, so let’s get it done. I am pleased to report the question has now been tabled.”