Cllr Richard Stainthorp – An Apology Required?
A week ago today I posted an article about Cllr Richard Stainthorp’s refusal to sign a road-safety petition. This was based on impeccable information that I checked. However, this morning I received the following email from Cllr Stainthorp (cut and pasted as received):
As a result of a phone call from the Reading Post it has come to my attention that there is an article concerning myself on your blog. The article concerns the petition regarding the junction at Oakley Road and Kidmore Road. You state ‘the organisers knoocked (sic) on a particular door in Oakley Road. It was the Caversham home of one Councillor Richard Stainthorp …. He refused to sign’.
This highly damaging statement is untrue and I demand that you remove the article from your blog and publish an apology stating that there was no truth in what you said. At no time have I answered the door to anyone asking that I sign a petition regarding road safety at the Oakley Road/Kidmore Road junction. If you would care to check with the organisers of the petition you will find that I have signed it. I did this on Tuesday 21st July at the Caversham Fopod (sic) and Wine Convenience Store.
The reason I can be so specific about the date is that on the previous daay (sic) I was attending the Caversham Primary School Year Six production and on my way in (and running fine on time) was approached by Cllr Ballsden (sic) who asked me to sign the petition. As someone who likes to read things carefully before putting their name to them and I was short of time I declineed (sic) at that time. The next day with more time available I went to the store, checked the wording and having no problem with its aims, signed it.
I consider the allegation made by you to be untrue, embarassing (sic) and damaging to my reputation. I therefore require you to remove it from your blog and print a prominent retraction stating that what you said was untrue, that I have signed the petition, agree with its aims and that you apologise to me for any embarassment (sic) caused. Prior to publishing this retraction I would ask that you send a copy to me so that I can confirm that I am satisfied with its content.
Please respond to this email within 48 hours. If a satisfactory public apology is forthcoming I will not feel the need to take the matter further.
Cllr Richard Stainthorp
It should be noted that Cllr Stainthorp is a teacher and therefore the 7 spelling mistakes and typos in the email are somewhat concerning. “Embarrassing” and “embarrassment” should have TWO “r’s”!
Now let us turn to the facts and Cllr Stainthorp’s assertions. I have rechecked what happened with my source and several things are clear:
1. A petition organiser did knock at the door of Cllr Stainthorp’s home and it was answered by an adult female (presumably Cllr Stainthorp’s wife Sue, who is a former Labour Cllr). She refused to sign the petition. I originally omitted that information as Sue is no longer an elected member.
2. Cllr Stainthorp’s main argument appears to be that he was “running fine on time” and was therefore unable to read the petition and digest its 68 words before deciding whether to sign. Again I have checked and this is completely untrue. Many witnesses can attest that when Cllr Stainthorp was approached to sign outside Caversham Primary School he took one of the petition boards and stood reading the short wording for many minutes (in fact my correspondent suggests it was about nine minutes). During that time many parents passed him, signed the petition and entered the school in good time for the Year Six Production. One in particular (a fellow governor) even commented that he should sign. He took so long reading the petition that in the end one of the mothers asked for the board back so that they could use it to get more signatures. When asked if he had signed he said “no”.
3. Cllr Stainthorp invites me to check with the organisers of the petition (which I have done), as he asserts that he signed it on 21st July. I have replied to him saying I am happy to take his word on that but I am told that the petition has been checked and his name was not found amongst the signatures that were handed to the Council on 21St July. It is of course possible that he signed a later sheet and this is now being checked.
I stand by my previous article but am happy to take Cllr Stainthorp’s word that he subsequently signed the petition in the store. I will therefore not be removing the original article or offering Cllr Stainthorp an apology.
What is “embarrassing and damaging” to his reputation as a teacher is Cllr Stainthorp’s inability to spell and remove typos from his work before pressing send. It is also worthy of note that Cllr Stainthorp has not even sought to counter the other elements of my article that he has not held a single ward surgery in the last 14 months and had submitted just 6 “Acolaid” requests in the last 12 months.
What a shame that such a worthy cause as this road-safety petition has been besmirched by Cllr Stainthorp’s curmudgeonly attitude and his attempts to deflect the poor publicity that has resulted for him from it.