By election expected as former leader Martin Curtis set to announce his resignation from Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Martin Curtis. Picture: Steve Williams.

Cllr Martin Curtis. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Former leader Martin Curtis is to announce his resignation from Cambridgeshire County Council and force a by election on the same day as the General Election.

Cllr Martin Curtis.

Cllr Martin Curtis. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Curtis said he was finding it increasingly difficult to balance his professional work commitments with that of a county councillor.

He had previously announced he would be stepping down from Fenland District Council but he hopes to retain a seat on Whittlesey Town Council.

Cllr Curtis, 50, was first elected to the town council in 1999 and within a few years had become both a district and county councillor.

Until the 2003 elections he was leader of the county council but stood down prior to the switch to the committee system.

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“I fear that we are about to rush headlong into a committee system that will be characterised by petty politics and infighting, with the needs of the people of Cambridgeshire coming a very poor last,” he said before standing down. March county councilor Steve Count was selected to replace him.

Since standing down as county leader Cllr Curtis has been appointed to a directorship at Curtin & Co, the public affairs consultancy.

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He said today he would continue to devote time and energy to the Conservative Party; recently he was appointed to a senior officer post within NE Cambs Conservative Association.

One of his most controversial moments at Fenland Hall came after he took a call in late 2012 from Council Leader Alan Melton and asked to resign from the vice chairmanship of the planning committee but refused.

“My sacking has baffled me and others,” he wrote on his blog.

“Cllr Melton invited me resign to prevent the indignity of being sacked. I asked for the reason for this and I was told it was because of ‘community perception’. I challenged and suggested that I had not seen or heard any issues in respect of this.”

He said that “having consulted a few people, I chose to decline the request.”

Cllr Curtis, who stepped down from the committee during recent debates on ‘supermarket-gate’ to press for Sainsbury’s to win the vote, said he was surprised Cllr Melton wanted him gone.

He told the council leader that “I have decided to refuse your request to resign. If you believe I should go on the basis of public perception (which is what you stated) that a debate needs to be had in public and I would therefore prefer the process to be transparent, rather than a fudge through forced resignation.”

Cllr Curtis said there was “huge support for my behaviour in this process from across the board - but certainly there are politicians and others who do not like the robust approach I have taken.

“Sometimes I think being an elected community leader means you have to do that. I hope that is not the reason for my sacking if it is it sends a dreadful, dreadful message to other councillors who choose to stand up and be counted when they feel their community has been let down (which Whittlesey has).”

Cllr Curtis has also stood as a Parliamentary Conservative candidate, achieving a 7.8 per cent swing to in the Labour stronghold of Nottingham North in 2010.

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