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Arson councillor makes pledge over 'future conduct'

"Cards were placed on the table" during conversation with UK Independence Party leader in Rushmoor, after Councillor Malcolm Small received suspended jail term for arson offence

UKIP's Cllr Malcolm Small

Disgraced councillor Malcolm Small will remain in his post as UKIP member for West Heath on Rushmoor Borough Council after promising to address his behaviour.

Cllr Small, 48, 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.

It 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 following an argument over their attendance at the mayor of Rushmoor's Valentine's Day ball.

In the end, the decision that Cllr Small was to remain on the local authority was made following "informal" talks between him and his party and West Heath colleague Cllr Mark Staplehurst , after senior UKIP officials were unable to attend.

Rushmoor Borough Council was powerless to act on the matter as Cllr Small's custodial sentence did not exceed the three-month limit set by the Local Government Act.

There were calls from opposition parties for Cllr Small to take the matter into his own hands and resign anyway.

Cllr Staplehurst said there would be no further action taken by UKIP , and that the pair would work closely together until next year's local elections, at which point a decision will be made on whether Cllr Small stands again.

"The cards were placed on the table and commitments were made by Cllr Small to conduct himself in an appropriate way in the future," said Cllr Staplehurst.

Magistrates in Basingstoke heard there was a history of domestic abuse in Cllr Small's marriage, with both sides claiming to be victims although no charges had been brought.

He was said to be remorseful, had suffered from depression and was on medication to deal with bi-polar disorder.

 
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