Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Yeovil Mick Clark was forced into a humiliating climb down after he falsely alleged that the Conservative run Somerset County Council had sacked 17 gritter drivers and sold their gritters. Mr Clark made the outlandish claims on his public Facebook page, less than 24 hours after the County Council announced that it had reversed a decision taken in September to reduce the amount of gritting routes. The post also included a quote from the leader of the Liberal Democrats at the County Council, Jane Lock apparently confirming Mr. Clark’s claim and was shared multiple times by Liberal Democrat councillors and activists.
However, the Cabinet Member responsible for SCC Highways confirmed: “We have not sold any of our current gritters and have no plans to do so. SCC do not employ designated gritter drivers. Through our contractor Skanska we have a flexible workforce who are multi-skill and able to work on a range of highways activities, which will include gritting in winter when it is required”
Mr Clark continued to pursue this untruth on other social media forums and was subsequently challenged by members of the public. In a humiliating climbdown Mr. Clark was then left with no choice but to remove the post sometime during the morning of Tuesday 12th February.
Conservative Group Leader, David Fothergill said “I find it particularly sad when the Lib Dems behave in such an irresponsible manner and cause significant confusion amongst the public. We should all try to be absolutely clear about the facts.”
A spokesman for Yeovil Conservatives said “It’s absolutely outrageous that a prospective parliamentary candidate can peddle this type of fabrication without any consequences. It’s clear that Mick Clark is not fit for public office if the only way he can garner support is with a barefaced lie. Mick Clark and Jane Lock need to consider their positions and apologise for treating the public with contempt.”
This is not the first time the Liberal Democrats have been accused of distributing fake news. In a recent leaflet the Liberal Democrats claimed that the County Council is ‘bankrupt’ despite the Council reporting a £1m underspend which is now being put into vital local services such as gritting.