Council leader's bombshell resignation

IPSWICH was today rocked by the bombshell resignation of borough council leader Dale Jackson.His decision to stand down comes after a complaint against him to the government's standards watchdog.

IPSWICH was today rocked by the bombshell resignation of borough council leader Dale Jackson.

His decision to stand down comes after a complaint against him to the government's standards watchdog.

Mr Jackson, leader of the council since September, resigned from the post and as leader of the Conservative group at Civic Centre after the Standards Board of England was asked to investigate an allegation of improper conduct.

The complaint centres on a letter that was allegedly sent three years ago. Deputy council leader Liz Harsant has taken over as acting leader of the borough council until her group can elect a new leader at its annual general meeting, which is due to take place just after May's elections.

Although the borough is not up for election, this date is significant because senior Conservative councillor and executive member Paul West is standing for parliament in the town.

If he fails to be elected to Westminster he could be in the running to take over as leader of the borough council. Mr West, who was out on the campaign trail in Ipswich today with his fellow Conservatives, declined to comment on Mr Jackson's resignation.

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However, Mrs Harsant said: "We understand the letter at the centre of this was sent three years ago so it is very unfortunate all this has only emerged now.

"And you have to remember that in 70 per cent of cases referred to them the Standards Board feel there is no case to answer. Dale will continue as a member of the council even though he is resigning as leader."

Conservative councillor Bill Wright, who represents Bixley ward, said the resignation had come as a shock.

He said: "The first I heard of it was four or five days ago. It's all come in a few days.

"At the moment we're just doing what we're doing and going from there."

Mr Wright said Mr Jackson, who is a lecturer in business at Suffolk College, had been a "very good" leader.

The Castle Hill ward councillor joined Ipswich Borough Council after previously sitting on Suffolk County Council.

He courted controversy in 2000 when he marched with Loyalists in Northern Ireland's Orange marches.

Mr Jackson was unavailable for comment either by telephone or at his home today.

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