Dale Jackson to appear before panel

IPSWICH Conservatives are to mark the first anniversary of taking over the reigns of power at Civic Centre by watching their former leader fighting for his political life.

IPSWICH Conservatives are to mark the first anniversary of taking over the reigns of power at Civic Centre by watching their former leader fighting for his political life.

Dale Jackson is to appear before an Adjudication Panel on September 15 to answer allegations that he sent an inappropriate letter to the daughter of his Conservative colleague Stephen Barker.

The panel has extensive powers - if the accusation is proved, Mr Jackson could be censured, suspended from the council or even disqualified from serving as a councillor altogether.

Mr Barker himself was suspended from the borough for a year in February 2004 after he was found guilty of treating a council officer with disrespect.

If Mr Jackson is suspended, his Castle Hill ward seat would be vacant for the period of his suspension.

However if he is disqualified, there would have to be a by-election to elect a new councillor in the ward.

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That could upset the political balance of the council, where the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration has a majority of just two over the Labour opposition.

Mr Jackson's Castle Hill Ward has been safe Conservative territory over recent years - even though Labour did win it several times during the 1990s.