Labour councillor taken off licensing committee while investigation is underway

St Helens Star: Councillor taken off licensing committee while investigation is underway Councillor taken off licensing committee while investigation is underway

A LABOUR councillor who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the town centre will not sit on St Helens licensing and safer communities committees this year.

As the Star revealed last month, Cllr Jo-Anne Willmitt was held by police following disorder outside the Imperial bar in St Helens and subsequently accepted a fixed penalty notice.

Labour is holding its own investigation into the incident and the Town Centre ward councillor’s alleged conduct.

While this takes place, it was considered to be inappropriate for her to sit on committees responsible for licensing the town’s bars, promoting community safety, and responsible drinking.

Cllr Willmitt’s name was taken off the panels last week, when the yearly appointments for committees are made.

The decision was taken during a meeting with Labour Party whips.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Cllr Willmitt has been interviewed by Labour Party whips and it was mutually agreed that at this time, she would come off the Licensing Committee.”

The councillor, who had been celebrating Labour’s local election successes in the hours prior to her arrests, later made allegations in the Liverpool Echo that police used excessive force when she was taken into custody with her partner on Ormskirk Street.

Police said they would investigate her claims if she made a formal complaint to the force, however, it is understood a grievance has not been made.

The Star emailed Cllr Willmitt to ask if she would like to comment, however, we had not received a reply at the time of going to press.

The appointment of former Mayor of St Helens Andy Bowden to head public health is the only change to St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald's new cabinet.

Cllr Bowden, whose term in the ambassadorial and non political role concluded last week, takes over the portfolio from Cllr Gareth Cross.

Bowden, who won admirers as mayor and is considered by some observers as a potential future St Helens MP, recently defeated Cross in a challenge for the deputy leadership of the St Helens Labour Group.

The nine-strong cabinet and their responsibilities are listed below:

Councillor Barrie Grunewald Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy, Governance & External Affairs

Councillor Jeff Fletcher Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services

Councillor Richard McCauley Member for Regeneration, Housing, Planning & Community Safety

Councillor Lynn Glover Member for Early Years & Young People’s Services

Councillor Sue Murphy Member for Schools & Lifelong Learning

Councillor Joe Pearson Member for Adult Social Care & Health

Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron Member for Environment & Neighbourhoods

Councillor Anthony Johnson Member for IT, Communications & Human Resources

Councillor Andy Bowden Member for Public Health & Wellbeing

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