March signals the return of council shorts row

Coun Winston Baugh has threatened to boycott Spilsby Town Council's daytime meetings unless he is permitted to wear his trademark shorts.
Coun Winston Baugh has threatened to boycott Spilsby Town Council's daytime meetings unless he is permitted to wear his trademark shorts.

For many, the month of March signals springtime’s approach, longer days and the easing of winter’s icy grip.

But while the weather may be warming and the daffodils beginning to bloom, for Spilsby Town Council, March has marked a decidedly frosty patch among certain relations.

Coun Winston Baugh’s threatened curtailment of his council duties unless permitted to wear his trademark shorts at meetings has reopened a row over what is considered appropriate council attire.

“I will not come to meetings, I will not do the CCTV or emergency meetings, I’m doing nothing for the council except come to these meetings at night,” he said.

Coun Baugh, who customarily wears shorts during the daytime between March 1 and October 31, said the Mayor of Spilsby Coun Michael Lenton, who was critical of his casual approach to council dress last year, had threatened to ‘abandon’ any meetings he chose not to attend in trousers.

Coun Lenton explained that having seen Coun Baugh dressed formally at a number of non-council engagements, he felt it only fair that he show the same respect to his fellow councillors.

“All I’m asking is that Coun Baugh shows his fellow councillors the same courtesy he shows potential employers,” he said.

Other councillors seemed disappointed that such a minor issue could prevent a councillor from carrying out his duties.

Coun Tony Bailey said Coun Baugh’s approach seemed ‘quite flippant’ and the council’s vice chairman Coun Peter Grant felt it a ‘retrograde step’ considering all the ‘good work’ he had performed for the town.

“He has always had his Hawaii 5-0 shirts and shorts but I think this is a retrograde step after all the good work he has done in the town,” he said.

Coun Lenton, speaking after the meeting, added that he felt Coun Baugh was a ‘good councillor’ and stressed that his dress request only applied to council meetings.

“When he’s out on the street, he’s perfectly entitled to wear whatever he likes, but at meetings councillors are expected to wear trousers and a shirt,” he said.