Saturday, 7 July 2012

County Council Leader Resigns

From the Leicester Mercury: full story HERE 
David Parson's nine-year reign as Leicestershire County Council leader has ended with his resignation. County Hall's Conservative group had been due to hold a motion of no confidence in Councillor Parsons after the authority's standards committee ruled he breached the councillors' code of conduct over his travel expenses.


However, he stepped down from his role as county council leader and leader of the Conservative group, just before his Tory colleagues were due to vote on whether to sack him. Coun Parsons yesterday reiterated an earlier apology for breaching the code of conduct but denied he was forced out. He said: "I have decided it is the right time to go. I have apologised and resigned my position as leader. "I have become the story – not the great work of the county council. When that happens, you have to consider your position.

Coun. Parsons has been under pressure to resign since the council's standards committee censured him on June 19. It said he had "disregarded four key principles – honesty, integrity, accountability and leadership". He held on to money he was paid for trips to Europe on council business which he should have promptly refunded to the authority. At one stage, more than £5,000 had built up in his account that should have been repaid. A whistle-blower brought the matter to light.

He said yesterday he had regrets and felt some shame about the circumstances of the departure from his £35,000-a-year post but said he did not want to dwell on that. He said he still owed just under £2,000 to the council for flights which he said he would pay back. He will continue to represent Kirby Muxloe and Leicester Forest East and said he hopes to defend the seat in May's election. He said: "Whether I am allowed to do that or not, we will see." The county council confirmed yesterday evening it had received Coun Parsons' letter of resignation. Councillor Nick Rushton, who was deputy leader, has become the acting leader of the authority until a permanent successor can be found. He told the Mercury: "David Parsons has done the honourable thing and fallen on his sword. That is in the best interest of the party, the council and the people of Leicestershire. "He has given us nine-and-a-half years – good years – as leader and he deserved some slack. "He would not want to have gone this way but it has happened to greater people than David Parsons. It happened to Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.

Liberal Democrat group deputy leader Dr Sarah Hill said: "David Parsons has done the right thing – eventually – by resigning. "I think he felt he could ride out the storm but then it emerged he no longer had his party's support so he jumped before he was pushed. "I believe the council's reputation as a whole has suffered because of what he did." Tory councillor Peter Osborne, who had seconded the motion of no confidence in Coun Parsons, said: "To resign is the correct thing for David to do. He has realised the fact he has lost the confidence of the people of Leicestershire."

Coun Parsons remains subject to a continuing police investigation into allegations of financial irregularities concerning his trips to Europe.

He declined to comment on a forthcoming standards hearing into allegations he made inappropriate use of the council's chauffeur-driven car.

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