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Calls for resignation of Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman who could claim £10,000 from taxpayer
Opposition leaders are calling on disgraced Barnet councillor Brian Coleman to step down, claiming his position “threatens the reputation of the whole council”.
The former mayor pleaded guilty last week to physically assaulting mother-of-two Helen Michael during an altercation in North Finchley High Road in September.
But the former cabinet member could still claim more than £10,000 in expenses from the public purse between now and the next election in 2014.
The former head of the London Fire Authority remains suspended from the national Conservative Party over the scandal but leaders of two opposition groups say he should now also resign as a councillor.
Barry Rawlings, deputy leader of the Barnet Labour Group, said: “If I was in his shoes, I would step down. It is a matter of integrity – you can’t represent people after a conviction of assaulting a woman.
“This is what he will be remembered for and it will do him some good to step down immediately.”
The Conservative party says officials will be “meeting soon” to discuss the controversial politician’s future, but Councillor Rawlings believes they should have acted sooner.
He said: “The Barnet Conservatives seem to be dithering and you can’t run a big organisation like that. They have given him more leeway than they should have done in the past and now they are paying for it.
“They have a history of being incompetent and not making decisions, and this is a case in point.”
Liberal Democrats group leader Jack Cohen believes any continuation in Mr Coleman’s role as a councillor could have wider implications for the local authority.
He said: “The whole reputation of the council is at stake. His career is pretty much over.
“I was astonished when I heard about the allegations and when I saw the CCTV footage of the assault, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it, or anything approaching it, in 25 years on the council – it’s truly remarkable.
“He’s never apologised for anything but a little bit of humility from Councillor Coleman would go down well at the moment.”
Barnet Council said the conviction is not strong enough to warrant his removal from the council, meaning Mr Coleman could claim thousands of pounds from the taxpayer over the next 12 months.
Councillor Rawlings said: “If he takes that money it will reflect poorly on him as an individual so he needs to step down.
“If there is any justice in this world, this will be the end of his political career. If assaulting residents doesn’t end your career, you have to wonder what you have to do.”
Councillor Coleman declined to comment on the matter when approached by the Times Series today.
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