‘I very much hope the lies will stop’ says Wisbech mayor as he opens up about depression and threatens legal action over social media posts about collision
PUBLISHED: 16:51 12 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 12 September 2020
The mayor of Wisbech says he is taking legal advice over “defamatory statements” made about him following a two-car collision on Bank Holiday Monday.
In an emotional post today – his first public comment since the incident – Cllr Aigars Balsevics released a statement through a Facebook forum.
The statement was published by Wisbech Discussion Forum – where two council colleagues are administrators – and which boosts 25,000 members,
The mayor said he had taken a brief time off for depression but had returned to his civic duties.
These include hosting a £25 a head charity tea party tomorrow (Sunday) at Wisbech Castle. The town council says all tickets for the event have been told.
Cllr Aigars wrote that “I very much hope the lies will stop,” after hundreds of comments followed reporting of the collision on social media.
“Some of the worst defamatory statements will be passed to my solicitor. But to the others who just spread these lies and unpleasant gossip, please stop. They are not true.”
Beginning his post with the statement that “my name is Aigars Balsevics and I am the current mayor of Wisbech” he then states that “I have been suffering from depression.
“I have been fighting with the depression and working through it but some days are better than others. I am a private man and I would not normally share personal information like this, but I am forced to.”
He adds: “As is well known I was involved in a minor car accident. I want to make a few things clear.
“I DID stop at the scene of the accident.
“I DID check everybody involved was unharmed.
“I was alone in the car – nobody else was with me.
“I DID NOT ‘hide my vehicle’ -I parked it at my property.
“I DID NOT deny that I was involved in an accident. I had exchanged details.
“We DID exchange contact details between myself and the other parties involved.”
Cllr Aigars says he has exchanged insurance details with the other party “and the matter is being resolved. I did nothing illegal. I acted in the proper way”.
He wrote: “I have had to take some time off because of my depression. I am still learning about how to deal with it but I am feeling much better this week.
“I have been reading some of the terrible, awful, nasty lies told about me on Facebook. I have been shocked to see some of them are quite racist as well as false.
“I don’t understand what is the matter with people who would spread such lies about an event at which they weren’t present and about a person they don’t even know. It makes me feel sad.”
The mayor continued: “I have tried my best since I moved to Wisbech to be a positive part of the town.
“When I was the deputy mayor I filled in for the mayor while he was ill. Now I am mayor, a post I am proud of, I am doing my best in this role also.
“But I am not made of iron. Like anybody else I can suffer from health or mental health issues.”
On September 6, Wisbech Conservatives announced that “Cllr Balsevics is presently going through some difficult personal issues and these are his own personal business.
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“His colleagues have made him aware we are here if he needs help and to otherwise give him space to deal with these issues.
“Until he feels able to resume his duties the deputy mayor will fill in for him.”
The collision in which the mayor was involved happened just before 11am on Bank Holiday Monday.
Ryan Alexander, 26, was heading to Tesco with his partner and their year-old baby daughter just before 11am.
They were on the Lynn Road towards Clarkson Avenue when they say Cllr Balsevics pulled out in front of them.
“Aigars was parked in the layby outside the international food shop towards Mount Pleasant,” said Ryan.
Traffic was brisk when suddenly, he says, Aigars “tried to make a U-turn and pulled right out in front of me. It was too late for me to break and I went straight into him”.
Ryan said: “He pulled straight out; it left me no time. Had I swerved left I would have gone into a tree and if I swerved right, I would have run right into the back end of his car, and others probably too.”
He said his first reaction was to check that his baby daughter was ok.
“It was a shock for me, and my partner was understandably upset,” said Ryan. “As Aigars had pulled right out in front of us then, I thought we were going to sort things out. He gave me his number and suggested we move to the Clarkson Avene layby to do just that.
“But he then got back into his car and drove off completely. I pulled into the Clarkson layby and called my partner’s father.
“Aigars rang me 20 minutes later and asked ‘how much is this going to cost?’ My partner’s father, who is in car sales, said it was not going to be a cash job but insurance”
“When he said that Aigars didn’t like that.”
Four hours later, with no insurance details forthcoming, Ryan and his family shared their story to social media.
“Aigars saw all the negative stuff – he wasn’t happy and rang me. I said if he had simply given his insurance details, everything on Facebook would be deleted,” he said,
Ryan’s friends had also been on the hunt to photograph the damage to Aigars’ car, which they found parked near to his pub, the Angel.
“I was glad they found his car as I hadn’t taken the registration number” said Ryan, “I knew who he was of course – I used to drink in his pub before I had a family.”
“He didn’t give the registration number and I didn’t take it because I was in a state of shock and assumed, we were going to meet.”
Ryan’s partner, and the mother of the child in the car, said Cllr Balsevics contacted her the following day “to ask us to apologise to him. He claimed we crashed into him. I told him we had nothing to be sorry for – he crashed into us and admitted so at the time”.
Veronica Luco, the mayor’s former partner, revealed in a social media post that she had contacted the couple involved in the collision.
“I contacted them, worried about the baby,” she wrote.
In May Cllr Balsevics, who runs three pubs in the town – The Angel, The Three Tuns and the Kings Head – became the first Eastern European-born person to become mayor.
It is not sure how many civic guests will attend the mayor’s fund-raising tea party.
Cllr Kim French, the mayor of March, said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted her to cancel all events until she felt it was safe and proper to resume them.
She has declined an invitation to the Wisbech tea party.
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