Sussex Lib Dem candidate in planning decision smear

A Lib Dem councillor in Sussex has been forced to apologise for misleading voters during last year's county council elections, according to the Bognor Regis Observer.

Bersted councillor Simon McDougall distributed a leaflet accusing the Conservative-run district council of favouring the building of houses on a local farmland site.

In fact, the site was one of three possible options for future development in the area being considered by the council and the final decision had yet to be taken.

Cllr McDougall narrowly retained his seat with 992 votes ahead of the 873 for his main rival, Conservative Ann Smee, and is now the Lib Dem candidate for Bognor Regis & Littlehampton at the next general election.

In a statement before the council, Mr McDougall said: "I apologise unreservedly to the council and the Conservative group for making a statement that was incorrect."

"I realise there were legal implications for the council because of the statement which I made and I am quite happy to correct it."

Cllr McDougall agreed to fund local newspaper adverts withdrawing his statement and a letter to 340 households who received the original leaflet.

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