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Parsons' successor vows to 'repair damage'

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Leicestershire CC’s new leader has vowed to “repair the damage” caused by the long running expenses saga involving former leader David Parsons.

Nick Rushton (Con), who was elected leader during a full council meeting on Wednesday, has ordered a Conservative group investigation after Cllr Parsons was censured by a standards committee over the way he had managed his expenses claims and reimbursed the council for trips to Europe.

Chief whip Tony Gillard (Con) has been asked to investigate whether party rules have been breached and whether Cllr Parsons should be suspended from the group.

Cllr Rushton, formerly Cllr Parsons’ deputy and cabinet member for resources, told the meeting: “I am determined that, under my leadership, we will collectively – members and officers – repair the damage to working relationships and the county council’s reputation brought about by events surrounding the former leader.

“It is vital that the council moves on and I will need the help of all members and the council’s staff in that task.”

Cllr Parsons resigned as leader in July, narrowly avoiding a no confidence vote from his fellow councillors after he was censured by the council’s standards committee over expense claims for trips to Brussels. A police investigation remains ongoing.

At a corporate governance committee on Monday it was revealed he faces a further hefty bill for travel to airports on top of more than £2,000 that he has repaid to the council. The supplementary bill for chauffeured journeys was estimated to be as much as £5,000, director of corporate resources Brian Roberts told the committee on Monday.

The committee also criticised Cllr Parsons, who is seeking reselection as a Conservative candidate for the county council elections taking place next year, for failing to write a formal letter of apology over the late repayment to Leicestershire of travel costs as demanded by the standards committee.

Committee member Peter Osborne (Con) said the standards system “lacked bite” and “could be ignored if you had a thick skin”, while committee chairman David Snartt (Con) said it was “something political parties ought to look at in terms of how they deal with members and the code of conduct”.

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