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Leader rapped over 'abandoned' car

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A council leader who left his untaxed car in a council car park for three months faces a local standards board hearing in September.

A report into what the Northampton Chronicle and Echo has dubbed ‘Astragate’ found that Tony Woods, the leader of Northampton Borough Council, broke codes of conduct for leaving his Vauxhall car at the Guildhall between September 2008 and January 2009.

Investigator Phillip Mears said: “In my view he used the space in a way that the council would not have approved of and for his own personal advantage.

“I have therefore concluded that he did make improper use of his official position. My finding is that Councillor Woods did not bring his office or authority into disrepute.”

Mr Mears said the space was intended to facilitate the leader’s commuting but, since the car was out of action for the three months, such use was improper.

He has urged the council to remind all councillors that council car parks were only to be used on offical business.

A spokesperson for Northampton Borough Council said: “Following a meeting of the Council’s Assessment Sub-Committee two complaints that the Leader breached the Council’s model code of conduct will be considered at a hearing of the Standards Committee to be arranged but likely to be convened early next month.

“The issues raised will be considered by the Standards Committee who will decide if code was breached and what, if any action will be taken following the complaint.”

Mr Woods told the investigator the incident had caused him great embarrassment.

He told the newspaper ahead of the sub-committee meeting: “I did leave my car in the garage for an extended period of time, that clearly was not the most sensible thing to do, but we’ll now have to let the process take its course.”

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