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By-election to be held after Rushmoor councillor resigns

Malcolm Small has resigned four months after arson sentencing relating to him burning his wife's clothes after row

UKIP councillor Malcolm Small at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court. He was given a suspended sentence for burning his wife's clothes

A Rushmoor councillor who was sentenced for an arson offence earlier this year has resigned, and a by-election has been announced for his seat.

Malcolm Small, who represented Farnborough's West Heath ward for UKIP since 2012, sent a formal letter of resignation to Rushmoor Borough Council chief executive Andrew Lloyd and has been removed from the council.

It was confirmed this week that a by-election would be held, with voters set to select Cllr Small's replacement on a polling day to be held on October 9.

Mr Small was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on March 14 after he admitted a charge of arson.

The charge related to him burning clothes, including an evening dress, belonging to his wife Kim Van Opdorp at his home in Brewers Close, Farnborough, on February 4 after an argument over their attendance at the mayor of Rushmoor’s Valentine’s Day ball.

Some councillors from UKIP's rival parties Labour and the Conservatives called for Mr Small to resign at the time, however UKIP lead councillor for Rushmoor Cllr Mark Staplehurst backed his colleague, saying the incident had been "blown out of proportion".

Any sentence of more than three months means a councillor has to stand down under the Local Government Act, but Mr Small initially pledged to conduct himself in an appropriate way in future and remained in his post for a further four months before officially resigning on July 29.

At his court hearing, he was said to be suffering with depression and was on medication for bi-polar disorder. His defence counsel told the magistrates that his marriage had broken down and a restraining order was passed forbidding him from contacting his wife.

UKIP, Labour and the Conservatives are all due to enter candidates for the by-election, and all candidates will be announced on September 15.

Mr Small was unavailable for comment.

For more reaction to Mr Small's resignation, see the Aldershot or Farnborough News & Mail out on Thursday (August 28).

 

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