Councillor stands down ahead of investigation findings

A LEADING political figure in west Suffolk under investigation for breaching the member’s Code of Conduct has resigned from one of his posts.

Peter Beer, also a town, district and county councillor, has tendered his resignation at Great Cornard Parish Council - making him the third member to quit the village authority in the space of a few weeks.

A chairman of the parish council for six consecutive years up to May 2009, Mr Beer spent the last few months of his 30 year career in public office in Great Cornard, near Sudbury, under a cloud of investigation.

The allegations from his own members, including current chairman and fellow Conservative Humphrey Todd, centred on him calling money handling practices into question, being aggressive, disruptive and even bullying staff.

Mr Todd, who accepted his resignation in person on Thursday afternoon<11.02>, said: “As one of the complainers I would say we found it impossible to run the parish council with the way he was behaving.

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“I have known Peter Beer a long time and choosing to report his behaviour was something I did with extreme reluctance - I felt I had no choice.”

He also revealed the resignation came days after a draft report of the investigation by the standards committee at Babergh District Council was released to parties, but said it would be against the law for him to comment or divulge any information relating to it.

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Dean Walton, a fellow parish and town councillor with Mr Beer, said of the resignation: “It was not a shock in some ways.”

The future of Mr Beer’s other public office duties, as a member of Sudbury Town Council and representing Great Cornard at district and county level, appear to be unaffected by his parish resignation. He had held the deputy mayor post at Sudbury Town Council until he stepped down for “health reasons” early last year.

Last night<12.02> Mr Beer, a self-employed driving instructor, could not be contacted to answer why he stepped down with the investigation conclusions pending. But his resignation letter read: “After approximately 30 years of service to the people of Great Cornard it is with regret and sadness that I find the present parish council and I can no longer work together.”

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said the standards sub-committee will meet behind closed doors on Friday<19.02> to consider whether the investigation will continue in light of the resignation. If so, the report will be finalised the same day and a second meeting held to decide whether there are matters to refer to a hearing before the standards hearings sub-committee.

Robert Sims and Carol Webb, who were also Conservative members of Great Cornard Parish Council, have also recently resigned from Great Cornard Parish Council, stating other commitments and family reasons.

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