Long Melford parish councillor to stand down after 41 years following unfounded allegations

Richard Kemp

Richard Kemp

A parish councillor who served his village for more than 40 years has resigned over “unfounded allegations” of misconduct.

Babergh District Council investigated two complaints made by a member of the public about Long Melford councillor Richard Kemp. These related to his position as trustee of a local charity and his property company’s role as landlord of the parish council’s headquarters.

Last night a spokesman for the district authority confirmed that an independent investigation had found that no action should be taken against Mr Kemp, who has also been a district councillor for 41 years and a county councillor for 23.

However despite this, the former magistrate said he had taken the decision to “stand down” as a parish councillor following a “very difficult” period.

He added: “These two complaints were hurtful, totally unfounded and obviously made by someone who hadn’t taken the trouble to find out the facts.

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“Babergh looked into them and consulted with an independent person in accordance with their standards procedure and found that there was no case to answer and that I had acted correctly in both cases.

“The last few years on Long Melford Parish Council have been very difficult and I have therefore after 41 year’s service decided to stand down. I thank all the people who have been so supportive over that period of time.”

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Mr Kemp’s company, Horsley Holder Properties Ltd owns the building in Hall Street where the parish council is based, which the complainant suggested was a conflict of interest. In addition, Mr Kemp is the only surviving trustee of the Hamilton Charity, which was set up in the village in 1986. The allegations centred on whether he should have sole responsibility for investing and managing the charity’s funds.

It has been suggested that the complaints were filed to coincide with the forthcoming district council elections – a claim which has been strongly refuted by another parish councillor, Paul Morton.

He said: “Mr Kemp was asked to provide details about his involvement with the trust more than a year ago, before I was even a councillor, but he refused to do so.

“So I was asked by several parishioners to look into it because they couldn’t get the information from him.

“It has now been investigated by Babergh and they’ve decided no action is required.”

A Babergh spokesman confirmed the council had received a complaint against Mr Kemp in January. He continued: “In line with usual procedure, it was referred to an independent person to investigate.

“These investigations were carried out and letters to Cllr Kemp and the complainant, Clive Morris, were sent out earlier this month. The investigation concluded that no action be taken against Cllr Kemp.”

Fellow parish councillor John Nunn said he was sorry Mr Kemp had decided to stand down, which would be a “great loss” to the village.

He added: “I know the hurt that has been caused to Richard by these totally unfounded accusations. I have always found him to be a man of the highest integrity who always has Long Melford close to his heart.”

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