Councillor resigns over Hancock cabinet job decision

OUT Cllr Eleanor Scott has quit the Lib Dem group at Portsmouth City Council
OUT Cllr Eleanor Scott has quit the Lib Dem group at Portsmouth City Council
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THE most senior female Liberal Democrat member on the city council has resigned over the group’s decision to keep Mike Hancock in the cabinet.

Councillor Eleanor Scott handed in her resignation this weekend, quitting the Lib Dem group and her environment and community safety position.

The decision to keep Cllr Hancock in the cabinet was made despite 10 of the group voting for him to stay and 10 voting against.

The chair and another councillor had abstained, meaning there was no casting vote and Cllr Hancock kept his job.

Cllr Scott told The News: ‘I’m deeply unhappy with the group’s decision and I’ve done the only thing that I feel I can.

‘I’m sure that many people in the group are reflecting on their positions, and I just hope they can all do the right thing.

‘I do remain a member of the Liberal Democrat party and I am in touch with the pastoral care officer about how I can help to start to put things right with the administration.

‘I do remain very committed to the council.’

She has represented Fratton ward, the same ward as Cllr Hancock, since 2002.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader of the council, said: ‘I hope that she reconsiders.’

It comes after the Lib Dem group on the council agreed to keep Cllr Hancock, who is also the MP for Portsmouth South, in his role as cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development.

All bar two of the ruling party’s councillors held a three-and-a-half-hour meeting at the civic offices on Friday and decided he should stay, despite now being an independent. Cllr Scott was not there as she was recovering from surgery.

As reported, Cllr Hancock was suspended from the Lib Dems after party headquarters obtained a copy of a report by QC Nigel Pascoe into his conduct.

He faces civil court action over allegations from a female constituent who says he made ‘unwelcome sexual approaches.’ He denies the allegation.

Cllr Donna Jones is leader of the Conservative opposition at the council.

She said: ‘I am encouraged by the strength of feeling by Cllr Eleanor Scott in resigning both her cabinet post and her position in the Liberal Democrat party in Portsmouth.

‘She is a woman of principle and her commitment to want to clean up the Liberal Democrat party is admirable.’