IAN HART: Will incident stop people entering public office?

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

Forgive the cliché, but with Vino Vinojan, what you see is what you get.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for over 20 years, from the days of when he was Saturday evening cashier at the old Rectory Road petrol station.

Almost every week I’d walk down from home to get my evening sports supplement, and every time, without fail when they’d lost, he’d ask me how Brighton got on – even though he knew the result all along!

With his family he ran and continues to run the local newsagents. Harty Junior had his first experience of employment there.

A few years ago, Vino decided to enter local politics and won the Central ward seat for the Tories.

He served the ward well for the four-year term, ongoing business commitments dictated he couldn’t devote the time needed for council duties so he stood down. But this June he re-entered the political arena, standing for the county council in Tarring.

What happened next ended up in a court of law. Vino was disgracefully abused by a member of the public with a distasteful jibe alluding to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

His attacker, Stephen McIntyre, has been convicted and jailed, and Vino can now move forward with his life.

But would what happened to Vino put other people off standing for public office?

It does highlight that however nice a place Worthing is to live, as in every place right around the globe, there are idiots and undesirables. It’s a fact of life.

But would that stop other people putting themselves forward?

Hopefully not. One of the real positives to come out of this whole sorry episode is that Vino still feels that he wants to serve the local community given the opportunity.

Having said that, I also wonder if the thought of the council paying for a private detective to investigate a sitting councillor, Bob Smytherman, might equally put members of the public off?