Southampton Council Leader Resigns Over Cover Up

Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams has resigned - after a report found he covered up the real reason one of his cabinet left.

Councillor Williams has also resigned as leader of Southampton's Labour group - and his seat as ward councillor in Woolston, which he has served for 17 years, having been elected six times, most recently with an increased and outright majority.

A by-election will be held in Woolston in the coming weeks, and his place as council leader will be filled by deputy leader Councillor Jacqui Rayment until the council’s annual general meeting on Thursday 15th May, when the leader for the new council year is decided each year.

Ahead of the meeting, Southampton Labour Group will decide who will be its nomination for leader at the AGM on 15th May.

Councillor Williams admitted a press release about his ex-efficiency and improvement chief Keith Morrell resigning on health grounds was untrue.

The resignation follows an external inquiry by Richard Lingard - which found the behaviour of Mr Williams, Mr Morrell and Mrs Rayment fell below national guidelines of openness and honesty in public life. However, it didn't find any evidence of maladministration, injustice or that any criminal offence had taken place.

Cllr Jacqui Rayment said:

“While I’m humbled to have been appointed to this position until the council AGM, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Richard. He always said Southampton is open for business, and it very firmly remains open for business and his contribution to the city and its economy will have a long-lasting impact.”

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