Disgraced Ashfield councillor Tom Hollis says he won’t be resigning from cabinet despite conviction
By Andrew Topping - Local Democracy Reporter
8th Nov 2022 | Local News
Disgraced Ashfield Councillor Tom Hollis has attended his first cabinet meeting since being sentenced in court and confirmed he will not be resigning from the post.
The Ashfield Independent, 29, was found guilty of harassment without violence and careless driving during two separate trials at Nottingham Magistrates' Court in September.
He was sentenced at the same court last month for both offences and was handed a 12-month community order and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay the victims £500 each as compensation, a £95 victim surcharge, costs of £1,000, a fine of £570 and six points were added to his driving licence.
It led to calls from some local politicians for Cllr Hollis to resign from his positions as a councillor on both Ashfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.
He represents Huthwaite and Brierley for the Ashfield Independents on Ashfield District Council and is the divisional member for Sutton West at County Hall.
The Sutton-in-Ashfield councillor is also the portfolio holder for housing on the Ashfield authority – a position he was not relieved of by the council's leader Cllr Jason Zadrozny.
Cllr Zadrozny did, however, sack Cllr Hollis as deputy leader of the council after his guilty verdicts in September.
Now the convicted councillor has attended his first cabinet meeting since the court proceedings ended and revealed he does not plan to step back from his role in the council's administration.
Cllr Hollis gets paid £12,238.68 a year in special responsibility allowances for the portfolio holder for housing position, on top of £6,901.68 in standard allowances for being a councillor.
But his sacking as deputy leader cost him slightly more than £3,000 of taxpayers' cash.
He also continues to receive a basic allowance of £15,000 for separate role as a Nottinghamshire County Councillor.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday (November 8), Cllr Hollis said he plans to stay on and continue his work as the portfolio holder for housing.
When asked if his actions set a bad example to residents, he said: "I'm a normal human being, I make mistakes like everybody makes mistakes and, when you're in the public eye, there's nowhere to hide.
"I've been humbled by the fact the judge has given me a punishment, but I've got a job to do here at Ashfield Council and the county council."
On whether he will apologise to residents for his behaviour and why he is not resigning, he added: "I've been dealt a punishment, I make mistakes and I'm a normal guy.
"I apologise for the people I've hurt, to my own family, to my colleagues who have been embarrassed by what's happened, but there's a job to be done here and I'm going to keep my head down to do it.
"I think I'd be letting people down if I didn't do that."
Cllr Hollis could only have been forced from office legally had he been handed at least a three-month custodial sentence by the court.
This means he would either have to resign from his elected position or be removed from office by residents during an election, with the next full Ashfield Council poll due in May next year.
The councillor says whether to run in the election is a decision he will "have to make" between now and voters going to the ballot box.
It comes after opposition councillors claimed they had been "gagged" by the authority after their attempts to publicly discuss Cllr Hollis' case during the December full council meeting were rejected.
Cllrs Chris Baron (Con) and Lauren Mitchell (Lab) had submitted a cross-party motion to discuss whether the cabinet member should be forced to resign over his conduct.
But Cllr Baron, who represents Hucknall West, said he was told the motion was not a matter for full council and would instead be discussed by the standards and personnel committee.
He says this will allow the Ashfield Independents to be "judging their own behaviour", with the group holding a majority on this committee.
And he accused the administration of "running scared" of its potential outcome by "trying to hide behind constitutional law".
"When somebody has been found guilty of two offences and still remains an elected member and a senior member of the cabinet, to me that sounds quite bizarre," he added.
In a statement after his sentencing, an Ashfield Independents spokesperson confirmed Cllr Hollis was not being sacked from the cabinet.
The spokesperson added: "The incidents were well over two years ago in a time of high pressure.
"Since then, Tom has matured and will now continue his job – serving his beloved communities of Carsic, Huthwaite and Sutton."