This is the full statement by Mr Gary Miller (owner, The Hat micropub) as given to Seaton Town Council last night, along with a screenshot and transcript of the now deleted tweets to which he refers:
Twitter @peterburrows 1 January 2019 11.38 am
It seems that someone who was rude to me on Facebook gave the impression that he was the owner of @thehatseaton in #seaton I wish them well in their enterprise.
Comment on above Tweet
Matthew Lloyd @matthewlloyd 16 hr
replying to @peterburrows @thehatseaton
You might want to advise @seatonTIC to be more professional on here and keep personal squabbles on personal accounts. Doesn’t make Seaton seem very welcoming to tourists like myself.
THE STATEMENT BY MR MILLER LAST NIGHT:
“Good evening. I am Gary Millar, the sole owner of The Hat Micropub in Queen Street. I am addressing the issue of Mr. Peter Burrows, the then Mayor and current Councillor on both a local and district level, attacking my livelihood and business.
On the afternoon of New Year’s Day, Mr. Burrows had a very public argument about fox hunting with a private individual on the Facebook page ‘Seaton Views’. This escalated to a robust exchange of views between the two protagonists. (Amusingly both share the same perspective on the matter). Mr. Burrows, who is surely used to the rough and tumble of political debate, took exception to being called a very naughty word. His inexplicable reaction was to use his title of Seaton Mayor to make a direct attack on me, accusing me of being disparaging to the mayor, and to tell thousands of subscribers to a Twitter page called @SeatonTIC, to avoid my business. On the face of it this was the official Seaton Tourist Information Centre page.
This is a grossly stupid response from any public official in any circumstances. You could not make it up.
It is not at all clear why Mr. Burrows chose The Hat as opposed to the many other local businesses that his detractor frequents. Surely, as a public official involved in my various applications, he would have known who I was?
I do not use social media for anything other than professional reasons. If social media users followed the guidelines given in the Hat including “No nasty opinions” and “Be respectful and remember there are other people around you”, the internet would be a kinder place.
Both @SeatonTIC and Seaton Views are ostensibly neutral and exist for the benefit of the people of and visitors to Seaton. However, they are administered by Mr. Burrows which gives him the control over their content. Reportedly, other supposedly impartial social media sites revolving around Seaton are also administered by him. Personally, it disturbs me that a public official has such a domination of information without a clear declaration of interest.
For example – Mr. Burrows selectively deleted his unsavoury exchange on Seaton Views and blocked his detractor from the site. Yet he also closed the @SeatonTIC page entirely, not at the request from the Council as reported, but unilaterally overnight on the 1st/2nd January after legal action was threatened against the then unknown poster. This had two effects – first; we are unable to see how many people viewed his tweet to assess the damage caused. Secondly; imagine the impression given to thousands of potential holidaymakers following what they would reasonably have considered the formal Seaton Tourist Information Twitter page – A strange tweet from the town Mayor attacking a local small business, followed by an unexplained blackout.
This cannot be good for either my business nor the image of the town as a whole. Surely, directing subscribers to the official Tourist Information Site would at least have been a productive step.
I would argue that these actions were not a selfless act by Mr. Burrows, or in the interests of myself or Seaton, but a means of covering tracks. A clear case of canting.
I have yet to receive a proper apology from Mr. Burrows. His statement of resignation last week did not make it clear that I was not the person who insulted him, then he justified his actions, and finally boorishly he ended with him giving himself a pat on the back for a job well done. Unfortunately, any apology at this time now sounds hollow.
Mr. Burrows was high profile in his role as Mayor and councillor on both local and district levels. As such I view both the local and district councils legally culpable for his actions, regardless of these being rogue or not. I expect both the local and district council to do their legal duty and mitigate any damage against me. This includes a full and open investigation of Mr. Burrows conduct in office, including on social media, and disciplinary or legal action wherever possible. This motion of no confidence, and the complaint to the East Devon Monitoring Officer is a positive response by the Seaton Town Council.
Despite undoubted damage to my business, the support of my regulars, and other public support helps me believe that moving to Seaton to open up a new and innovative business was the right decision. My sincere thanks to you all and I hope to continue to serve you real ales, ciders and other fine beverages in a friendly environment for many years to come.
There is however still much to do from both Councils to support the current small traders and promote the opening of new dynamic, interesting small shops in Seaton. Encouraging visitors to move to the traditional trading area, now called The Cultural Quarter, from the lower end of town is an urgent requirement to start. Regrettably, after a year of trading in Seaton and having contributed in various forums, I have yet to see any concrete or effective steps to this end by the Council. This is an opportunity for both the Council and traders to reset and have a fresh start.
In conclusion I would urge all councillors to support this motion of no confidence. What most surprises me is that Mr. Burrows has not recognised his position as being untenable and has not resigned already on his own volition.
Thank you for your time and attention.”