A UTTOXETER councillor has stood down from his authority’s ruling party while he takes legal action – against the same council.
Malcolm Barrett, who covers the Uttoxeter town ward, has mutually agreed with East Staffordshire Borough Council to a temporary suspension from the Conservative group to give him the opportunity to pursue his claim relating ‘to an attempted land deal dating from 2005-08’.
As previously reported, Councillor Barrett is keen to recover £200,000 following the collapse of an agreement for the authority to sell a plot to MJB Developments, his business, for a new cattle market in Uttoxeter.
In a statement, the borough council said Councillor Barrett will continue his role representing the town but will not sit on Tory meetings or as chairman of the enhancing lives scrutiny committee.
This is to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to pursue his claim against the council – the basis of which he began before becoming a councillor in 2006.
Councillor Barrett said: “I obviously understand the importance of high standards in public office, so I recognise the need for this temporary suspension.
“I will continue to represent the interests of my Uttoxeter constituents as a Conservative councillor but I am thankful that the ruling group on the council has given me this opportunity to proceed with my claim in the interests of my company M.J. Barrett (Developments) Ltd.”
Richard Grosvenor, leader of the council, said in the same statement: “This temporary suspension will last until Malcolm’s case is concluded and is clearly fair to the council, the constituents of Uttoxeter, the controlling Conservative group and Malcolm himself.
“It gives Malcolm the space to put forward his views in his day job as chairman of M.J. Barrett (Developments) Ltd and to argue his case appropriately.
“Any member who has a legal claim against the council of course has to consider their position at a time like this and it is to Malcolm’s credit he understands this.
“The decision will also allow the council to continue to defend its position against the claim.”