SENIOR Cotswold politicians have reacted to today’s conclusion of the Standards Board hearing into Councillor Esmond Jenkins’ alleged breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.

Although the Standards Committee decided today that Cllr Jenkins had breached a number of the points of the code of conduct, only minimal sanctions were imposed upon him.

Cotswold Liberal Democrat chairman Mike Evemy welcomed the result and called on CDC chief executive David Neudegg, who gave evidence during the hearing, to resign.

“He has made huge misjudgements over this and other matters, such as the motivational magician, which have brought our authority into disrepute,” he added.

“His head of planning must go too – she launched this complaint based upon hearsay and trivia and leads a department which has completely failed to stand up to a holiday home developer that has been allowed to breach planning consent and make hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process.

“The Conservative administration has been happy to see this happen and it should hang its head in shame.”

Cotswold Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said the fact that Cllr Jenkins was cleared of most of the charges called into question the process that led to the hearing.

“What concerns us in particular is that the investigation lasted many months, cost a fortune in taxpayers’ money and, at the end of the day, the standard of much of the evidence presented was far from satisfactory,” he said.

“It is also deeply disappointing that Esmond was forced to defend himself without any financial assistance from the council while the Standards Board employed an expensive barrister to present their case – it was hardly a fair process from that point of view.”

On hearing the committee’s decision, CDC cabinet leader Cllr Lynden Stowe said the hearing should never have taken place.

“Had Cllr Jenkins taken the advice offered to him on how to conduct himself and on the technical and legal issues in which he became embroiled he would have realised that his whole approach was misguided and wrong,” he said.

“We all acknowledge that Cllr Jenkins helped to uncover Dennis Grant’s fraud at the Cotswold Water Park Society for which he must be commended – what a pity that he has squandered this goodwill by his breaching the council’s code of conduct.”

He added that Cllr Jenkins and the Liberal Democrats should bear full responsibility for the cost of the process.

“Elected members have to abide by the rules as they now exist – that is part of the democratic process,” he added.

“We cannot understand why the Liberal Democrat Group have persisted in their support for Cllr Jenkins despite his conduct.

“We hope that the Liberal Democrats will now support this Council and its democratic procedures and respect decisions that are made as reasonable and well founded in law and policy.

Cllr Stowe added he hoped the end of the hearing brought an end to the issue.

“It is now essential that a line is drawn under this matter and that all councillors and officers work towards a more positive working relationship in the future,” he said.