Email accident for Conservative Party as opposition councillors see election tactics
AN email meant only for Conservative Party members has landed in the inbox of every Devon County Councillor.
Conservative County Council leader John Hart sent the email in January, explaining how Devon's Conservatives ought to fight the upcoming County Council election.
But the email was then sent to a man named Alan Hughes by Conservative councillor for Exmouth, Halsdon and Woodbury Bernard Hughes.
And Alan Hughes, a consultant in the satellite industry who lives in Hampshire, decided Bernard Hughes, who is no relation, should be punished for his indiscretion and sent it to every member of Devon County Council.
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Mr Hughes said he received an apology from Bernard Hughes, although by that time he had already forwarded the email.
And Bernard Hughes repeated his apology when he was contacted by the Journal.
"I was trying to send the email from one computer to another and somehow pressed the wrong button," he said.
"I've apologised to the leader of the council and I am very embarrassed. I'm mortified to be honest."
In the email Mr Hart gives an update of a Conservative Party meeting before briefing councillors and candidates on the budget, which the council must pass before the election.
"We have a large majority on each of the Scrutiny committees," he writes, "provided all members turn up..."
"I would rather not have Lib Dem recommended changes to the budget being passed as they will definitely become Election issues in less than 12 weeks."
Mr Hart also talks about the party's election claims, including one that "we [The Conservative Party] have run Devon County for four years and only increased Council Tax by 1.98%, a very good sound bite for every parish council meeting you attend".
And Mr hart finished his email with a warning for all candidates that they must have all their campaign material approved by senior Conservative Party members.
"Any candidate wanting to print their own leaflets can do so but Either Lucille Baker or I need to see the Copy before printing," he wrote.
"I want no promises made by a candidate that we cannot keep, we will only play into the hands of the opposition parties.
"Keep your leaflets positive, ignore the other parties. Let them do what they like - answer them and you will find people looking to see what was originally said."
After the incident Mr Hart issued a statement to the Journal saying: "We will be fighting the Devon County Council elections in May on our record of safeguarding frontline services, keeping council tax down and making the authority more efficient and businesslike.
"That's what my email to councillors and candidates says."