Councillor sorry after accusation of power ‘abuse’

The Wandering Goose pub
The Wandering Goose pub

A COUNCILLOR accused of abusing her position by trying to gain entry into a sold-out event on New Year’s Eve has apologised.

Cllr Vicky Vaughan, who also acts as the vice-chair of the Worthing Licensing Committee, will no longer be able to take part in licensing matters involving The Wandering Goose pub, in Marine Parade, Worthing, after becoming embroiled in an online spat with the pub’s owner.

On New Year’s Eve, Cllr Vaughan sent a text message to Nathan Wright, the owner of The Wandering Goose, asking if she and some friends could visit the pub for drinks before they went to Brio ristorante and pizzeria next door.

When Mr Wright said the venue was sold-out Cllr Vaughan replied, “don’t you know who I am?” prompting Mr Wright to post the message on Facebook.

In the exchanges that followed Cllr Vaughan wrote: “The Goose will be last on my list from now on, and with customer care like this I’ll be surprised if tickets kept selling.”

Since the incident, Cllr Vaughan has apologised and sent roses to the pub with a white flag attached.

She said: “I whole-heartedly apologise to the pub management and to anyone who was offended by my comments.

“The comments were meant to be tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted and I certainly did not wish to cause offence. I am proud of my position as a Borough Councillor and as Vice Chairman of the licensing committee.

“We lifted the saturation policy in 2013 to attract great pubs like The Goose, and I wish the pub and its customers a happy 2014.”

Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Borough Council, added: “Vicky’s obviously made a big mistake. People shouldn’t use their positions to gain any favours even if it is only entry to a pub. Hopefully she’s learned from it.

“She won’t be able to sit on any licensing matters involving that establishment.”

Mr Wright said he did not think there was any malice in Cllr Vaughan’s comments and accepted her apology.

“It’s a little bit naive of her in the first instance. I’m not a person to be judgemental but the point she lost the moral high ground is when she started talking about taking her business elsewhere.”

After receiving the roses, he wrote: “It’s refreshing to see there is a sense of humour in politics... Well done Vicky.”

Some members of the public were less than impressed with Cllr Vaughan’s comments.

Addressing The Goose on Facebook, Alex Calvert said: “Asking a landlord to break the rules and have extra people in his pub is totally shameful.”