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Local authority chief executive steps down after tweet about Conservative party

A long-serving council chief executive has quit weeks after he issued a derogatory tweet about the Conservative party.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council did not say whether the incident was linked to this week’s departure after 13 years as chief executive of Steven Pleasant, who was also for six years the accountable officer of Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group.

Mr Pleasant’s tweet on his official council Twitter feed said of a Conservative voter interviewed on television: “She was good. Tory voter with compassion and empathy for others. Who knew !!"

A report from monitoring officer Sandra Stewart is still shown on the agenda for a full council meeting next week.

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Her report said the same evening the tweet was made a complaint was received by the council from a Conservative councillor followed by complaints from the entire Conservative opposition group.

Mr Pleasant then apologised to opposition group leader Doreen Dickinson, which Ms Stewart said was accepted.

She went on to note the post of chief executive is politically restricted under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and so Mr Pleasant should not have appeared to have tried to affect public support for a political party.

There was also a breach of section 2 of Local Government Act 1986 - Prohibition of political publicity, which was aggravated by the proximity of the breach to the May elections, for which Mr Pleasant was returning officer.

Tameside’s newly elected Labour leader Gerald Cooney said: “Steven has been a great servant of Tameside Council and the local NHS.”

He added: “Steven has a long and successful track record in leading our organisation through the most challenging period in its history.”

This included the successful delivery of numerous local projects, leading the area’s pandemic response and becoming an MBE for work with asylum seekers and refugees.

Cllr Cooney said: “However, with the closure of the CCG this month and with the advent of the new political leadership in the council, Steven feels it is now the right time for him to step down and start a new chapter in his life. I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I wish him the very best in his new endeavours.”

The joint chairs of  NHS Tameside and the CCG  Ashwin Ramachandra and Asad Ali said in a joint statement: “Steven has been instrumental in our pioneering journey for delivering integrated health and care services across Tameside. His role was unique in managing both the council and the CCG.”

Mark Smulian

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