Heated row over disgraced Councillor Tom Hollis leads to Ashfield meeting being adjourned

The offices of Ashfield District Council.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

An Ashfield District Council meeting was temporarily suspended following a heated row about disgraced councillor Tom Hollis.

The Ashfield Independent councillor was found guilty of harassment without violence and careless driving at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court in September.

He was subsequently sacked as deputy leader of the council but remains the authority’s portfolio holder for housing.

A dispute began during his appearance at the authority’s first full council meeting since his court sentencing.

The meeting, on Thursday (December 1), was paused after heated shouting began between the Conservatives and a senior Ashfield Independent.

When Cllr Hollis arrived and joined the meeting, around ten minutes after it had started, Cllr Chris Baron, the Conservative group’s deputy leader, immediately stood up and began to walk out of the chamber.

As he left the meeting, he shouted: “You shouldn’t be here Tom. I’ve got standards in public life.”

Shouting then broke out between Cllr Baron and Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the council’s leader, as Cllr David Walters (Ash Ind), chairman of the council, shouted “order” several times.

Cllr Walters then adjourned the meeting to try to end the row.

Speaking after the meeting recommenced around five minutes later, he said: “That behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Cllr Hollis did not respond to Cllr Baron’s comments.

Following the row on Thursday, Cllr Lauren Mitchell (Lab) also joined Cllr Baron in leaving the meeting in protest and both did not return.

During sentencing in October, Cllr Hollis was handed a 12-month community order and was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also told to pay the victims £500 each as compensation, a £95 surcharge, costs of £1,000 and a fine of £570, while six points were added to his driving licence.

Having not resigned as a councillor, he could only have been legally removed from elected office had he been handed a custodial sentence of at least three months.

An Ashfield Independents spokesman said at the time: “The court has made a judgement and Tom has accepted this and will now serve his sentence giving back to the community.”

During Thursday’s meeting, there was no discussion of the arrest of six Ashfield Independent councillors last month. 

Two men, in their 20s and 40s, and three women in their 30s and 70s were held on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and misconduct in public office.

The three women have also been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, and one of the women was also detained on suspicion of fraud and electoral offences.

A man in his 50s was also detained on suspicion of fraud and electoral offences.

In a statement, the Ashfield Independents “vigorously” denied all allegations and said the councillors are “confident of their innocence”.

All six people have since been released under investigation, and no charges have been brought.

Police usually only name arrested people if they are charged with an offence.

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