Resignation of former deputy leader ends conduct investigation at Broadland District Council

Jo Cottingham has resigned from Broadland District Council.

Jo Cottingham has resigned from Broadland District Council. - Credit: Archant

The former deputy leader of Broadland District Council has decided to resign as a councillor and bring an end to an investigation into her conduct.

Buxton ward Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Rix made the complaint against Mrs Cottingham.

Buxton ward Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Rix made the complaint against Mrs Cottingham. - Credit: Archant

Jo Cottingham had been district councillor for Aylsham before her resignation and was also previously chairman of the authority and portfolio holder for communities and housing.

Mrs Cottingham, a Conservative, has written to Broadland chief executive Phil Kirby to notify him of her resignation with immediate effect and has shared the letter with the EDP.

In it she says: 'This has not been an easy decision for me to make but unfortunately the extended timescale of the ongoing investigation is beginning to have an adverse effect on my health and has undermined my confidence to such an extent that I no longer feel able to fulfil my commitment to the council or to the residents of Broadland.

'I am also mindful of the ongoing cost of the investigation and its effect on council finances.

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'I would hope you feel that as an active member of the council I have made some contribution to the wellbeing of Broadland residents over the past nine years and I thank you for your support during that time.'

Mrs Cottingham stepped down as deputy leader after being accused at last November's full council meeting of previously wanting to get rid of a member of staff, who was then at risk of redundancy.

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Buxton ward councillor Barbara Rix, a Liberal Democrat, claimed Mrs Cottingham made the comments to her at a book sale in August and lodged a formal complaint.

A spokesman for Broadland said: 'As the councillor has resigned her position as councillor the investigation has been brought to a close.

'The decision not to continue the investigation was taken by Broadland District Council's monitoring officer, Martin Thrower, as it was not considered to be in the public interest to progress the matter to a conclusion, when if a breach or breaches of the code of conduct were found it would not be possible to impose any sanctions against a former member of the council.

'This decision was taken in consultation with the council's independent person, Alistair Roy. Councillor Robin Knowles, chairman of the council's standards committee and the complainant, councillor Barbara Rix, are also both in agreement with the decision.'

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