Peter Gibson former Wyre Council leader: 'It is fair to say that I believe personal animosity and personal ambition is a factor in this issue"
Political rivalries and animosity should be left at the hospital door in cases of life and death, a former council leader has said.
Peter Gibson, who led Wyre Council for seven years, spent more than six weeks in hospital – during which time he said he did not even get a card from his colleagues despite being a death’s door.
The now-independent Breck ward councillor was ousted by the ruling Conservative party amid an ugly fall-out that saw him accused of being unfit to lead last year.
A fellow councillor accused him of turning up to a meeting “worse the wear for drink” – something Coun Gibson has strongly denied.
But while he said he believes “personal animosity” and “ambition” may have been a factor in the lack of contact during his stay in hospital, he said some things are more important than politics.
Coun Gibson – whose partner was told to expect the worst as he battled back from double pneumonia, sepsis, two seizures, a stroke and respiratory collapse – said councils have a “duty of care” to members.
He claims he received no official contact from Wyre Council while at hospital and raised the issue with leader David Henderson at a recent meeting.
Coun Gibson, who is diabetic, said he “wouldn’t or couldn’t” get a response.
Speaking afterwards, he told The Gazette: “Over the seven years of being leader I did make some enemies which is expected.
“It is fair to say that I do believe personal animosity and personal ambition is a factor in this issue.
“I was told by a Labour councillor last year that they were out to get me and I do feel that it was something they had planned about for some time.”
Coun Gibson was removed from office last year after fellow councillors accused him of turning at up meetings “worse the wear” for drink.
In an interview at the time, he hit back at the claims he has a drinking problem, blaming problems with his diabetes and blood pressure.
Despite having a “history” with certain members of the council, he said he feels political differences should have been put aside in such serious circumstances.
He said: “No matter what happened in the past I think I should have got a get well soon card at the least.”
While in hospital, Coun Gibson spent 16 days on a ventilator and said his partner was told to expect the worst.
His condition is considerably improved but he is still recovering.
He added: “I hope no one else has to go through this. That is why I hope the council will introduce a duty of care.”
He said he was left frustrated that his questions in the council chamber went unanswered by Coun Henderson, with chief executive Garry Payne responding instead.
Mr Payne said: “We have in place an appropriate policy which is for both staff welfare and member’s welfare.
“Members can be assured that if there is any contact made with me where help is required in any event, whether it’s a serious health matter as Coun Gibson suffered or whether it’s any other health matter, for example mental health because of abuse on social media then I will deal with it. Members can be assured that.”
But Coun Gibson said: “If the question is asked (of a councillor) during a meeting it is their duty to acknowledge and response to the query and not dump it on the chief executive."
Coun Henderson declined to comment when approached by The Gazette.
Peter’s career as Wyre’s leader
March 2010 - From deputy to leader
Coun Peter Gibson is voted unanimously as the new leader of the council following in the footsteps of Coun Russ Forsyth who stood down to become mayor of the borough.
October 2010 - The start of cuts
Coun Gibson said his authority could lose in the region of £2.8m worth of grants over the next four years in order to reduce national debt.
June 2011 - Allegations of disrepute
He is cleared of allegations of bringing his office into disrepute following comments towards Lancashire Police Crime Commisioner Clive Grunsham, the then leader of the opposition.
November 2011 - Row over tram museum
Comes under fire for favouring a £1.5m waste centre rather than a new tram museum in Fleetwood.
September 2012 - ‘Disgusted’ by Labour councillors
He accuses Fleetwood’s Labour councillors of blocking investment in other areas of Wyre.
March 2013 - Praise for tax freeze
Council announces third consecutive year of council tax being frozen.
January 2014 - Row over giant homes plan
Row breaks out over plans to redevelop the former Department for Work and Pensions site in Norcross.
September 2014 - Unitary council dream
Coun Gibson said he believes the authority would be better placed to serve residents if it had full control of its finances, which would only happen if it was a unitary authority.
March 2015 - Hovercraft plans
He welcomed plans for a hovercraft service to operate from Fleetwood saying it would be ‘fantastic’.
July 2015 - Gas storage slammed
Says he is ‘very disappointed’ about the Government’s decision to ignore local feelings and go ahead with gas storage underneath Over Wyre.
March 2016 - Tax increase
Following a five-year council tax freeze, a 1.75 percent rise is ‘reluctantly’ announced.
November 2016 - Describes MP’s comments an ‘insult’
He slams Fleetwood MP Cat Smith over comments that immigrants contributed the most in her constituencies.
July 2017 - On a break
Coun Gibson takes a break from his role due to ill health
October 2017 - The end of the line
While on holiday, he is axed as leader following concerns he turned up to a meeting “the worse for wear” for drink, something Coun Gibson has strongly denied.
Gibson's fall from grace
Peter Gibson was the leader of Wyre Council for eight years before being deposed just over a year ago around concerns that he appeared to be “unable to take a meeting” of the council.
He also left the Conservatives to become an independent councillor, the only one on the council.
The vote to remove him as leader saw the motion carried by 31 votes to none, with eight abstentions.
He was replaced temporarily by his deputy Coun Alan Vincent, who Labour councillors claimed was also “unfit”to lead the authority, after he brought disrepute into his office in 2004.
Coun Gibson, accused the group of cowardice for making the decision at a time when they knew he would be taking a holiday in Portugal.
The current leader of Wyre Council, David Henderson, said Coun Gibson turned up “the worse for wear” for drink at a meeting in June.
He said: “I have tried time and time again to talk sense into Peter. He just wouldn’t listen.