LEADING Coventry councillor Jayne Innes has surprisingly left her role as a cabinet member after high-profile controversies over parking and bus gate fines for motorists – and amid accusations she had been driving without an MOT.
Tensions between her and other members have spilled into the public domain intermittently over the years, but have been particularly prominent in recent months.
Accusations from opponents included that she had been driving without an MOT in recent weeks.
The national MOT database states the car’s MOT expired on November 8. When asked by the Observer about it this morning, she said: “As far as I am concerned I do have an MOT. I’ll go and check it. I’ve not had a reminder. If I thought my MOT had run out, I would leave the car.”
She later claimed the car in question, a Fiat 500c – seen and photographed since November 8 in the council car park – belonged to a family member and was now booked in for an MOT, without clarifying how it got there and declining to answer our further questions.
While the full circumstances of her departure are not known, she confirmed on Twitter this morning her departure from her cabinet member for City Services post.
She will be replaced by former Labour group whip and ex-cabinet member Patricia Hetherton.
Coun Innes tweeted: “After 2.5 years as Cabinet Member for City Services I’m pleased to be passing the baton to excellent .@CllrHetherton
“I’ve enjoyed my time in role, and thank the lovely residents, Councillors and Officers I’ve worked with
“Looking forward to starting work on my PhD #excited”
Coun Innes, councillor for Whoberley who has also previously stood for Labour in general elections, has been embroiled in controversies in what is traditionally a challenging portfolio in charge of services including bin collection, street cleaning and roads.
She was incensed this year when Conservative opposition councillors accused her of ‘misleading’ the council and called an Extraordinary General Meeting over her conduct.
It came after national independent legal experts at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal had issued damning verdicts on Coventry city centre’s Restricted Parking Zone, and bus gates, which have both seen thousands of motorists fined.
In both cases, the tribunal repeatedly ruled motorists were being snared without being fairly notified of the restrictions, given inadequate signage.
Coun Innes steadfastly maintained, along with council officers including Colin Knight, that the controversial schemes were legally compliant, and that motorists ought to be fined for flouting rules.
She launched an official complaint to the monitoring officer, demanding opposition councillors including Tim Mayer withdraw the accusation she had misled.
Monitoring officer Julie Newman had ruled it would not be appropriate to investigate under Code of Conduct procedures.
Coun Innes also told us this morning: “I want to do a PhD in politics and gender studies. Leaving now allows a smooth transition for Pat before Christmas and enables me to prepare for university in the new year.
“If I don’t do a PhD now I’ll never get to do it.
“There’s been so many things I’ve loved doing, including road safety schemes, average speed cameras, bus lane suspensions – the air quality stuff I was enjoying as well.”
Coun Mayer tweeted this morning: “Nothing to do with TRO errors, bus gates failing, failed complaints, misleading of council, accusations of driving with no MOT, damming High court rulings following poor management, loss of performance from brief, failure to turn up to PATROL. Nothing to see here gov……honest”
He later tweeted in response to our updated story: “So this reads like JI has admitted a member of her family is driving around with no MOT. Only elected members should be using the free car park provided by Coventry Rate payers so if it isn’t JI that drove it in and parked who did?”