Councillor's drunk and disorderly arrest

St Helens Star: Councillor Willmitt at the election count Councillor Willmitt at the election count

A LABOUR councillor was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly while celebrating into the early hours following the party’s success in the local elections.

Councillor Jo-Ann Willmitt spent the night in the cells at St Helens Police station after she was taken into custody outside the Imperial nightclub on Ormskirk Street on Saturday.

Officers confirmed they were called at 12.25am following reports of a disturbance outside the nightclub.

She was given a fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly in a public place and released.

Cllr Willmitt, who was not up for election last week but was present at the count to support colleagues, represents the town centre ward and sits on various council committees, including Licensing and Safer Communities.

In her role, she comes into regular contact with senior police officers and is involved in decision making surrounding safety in the town centre, pubs and bars, and promoting safe drinking.

Police would not comment on the nature of Cllr Willmott’s alleged behaviour.

The arrest came hours after members of the Labour party, who had been attending the count in the town hall, were spotted drinking bubbly in another town centre bar.

It is understood a number of councillors went on to the Imperial to carry on the late night celebrations. The Star tried on numerous occasions to contact Cllr Willmitt by phone on Tuesday and Wednesday but she could not be reached.

It is unclear whether she will pursue her right to challenge the allegation and fine in court.

The St Helens Labour group had not commented on the arrest at the time of going to press.

A police statement read: “Merseyside Police can confirm a 37- year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly outside the Imperial Nightclub on Ormskirk Street, St Helens on Saturday, May 24.

“Officers were called at about 12.25am following reports of a disturbance outside the nightclub.

"The woman was arrested, taken to a police station and received a Fixed Penalty Notice for being drunk and disorderly in a public place.”

  • In the Star’s initial story, which features in today’s print edition, a police spokesman said the force had informed the council of the arrest under the ‘Notifiable Occupation Scheme’, as Cllr Willmitt is deemed to be in a position of trust.

Following publication today, the Star was contacted by Merseyside Police who said that the original information they had provided was inaccurate and that the role of councillor did not fall under that scheme, meaning they did not refer the matter to the council.

The report also stated a spokeswoman for St Helens Council had confirmed the local authority had been made aware of the incident but added that it was a police matter.

The Star has a reporter’s shorthand note regarding this point.

However, St Helens Council dispute this, insisting their spokeswoman had simply said it was a police matter.

 

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