A TOP Somerset County Councillor has resigned from his cabinet position following an investigation into his behaviour regarding the sale of the freehold of the West Somerset Railway.

Cllr David Huxtable was responsible for the sale of the freehold which is owned by the council.

The freehold is leased to the Plc who run the tourist attraction, with the support of the West Somerset Railway Association.

Last year, both the Plc and the Association submitted bids to the council for the freehold but in May the council announced it would no longer be selling it.

The decision came after a string of emails, seen by the County Gazette appeared to show that cllr Huxtable planned a "media campaign" against one of the buyers.

Huxtable, a cllr for the King Alfred decision, was in charge of the sale and was expected to announce who the freehold would be sold to last June, but instead an investigation was launched after five complaints were made.

Today, (March 10), Somerset County Council announced that Cllr Huxtable had resigned and published the findings of the report.

He was found to have breached the Code of Conduct in the following areas:

  • Not to use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly or give yourself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage
  • Not to conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute

He was also found to have failed to comply with the following requirements of the Code of Conduct:

  • Avoid doing anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of the council
  • Not to disclose information given to you in confidence by anyone, or information acquired by you which you believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, subject to the exceptions there listed.

In a statement, Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This is obviously a devastating outcome for a councillor who has devoted more than 30 years to public service.

"Cllr Huxtable has today written to me with his resignation from his Cabinet position.

"This is the honourable step to take and nothing less than I expected of a councillor whose three decades of dedication to public service include 26 years with SCC – six as a Cabinet member.

“I know that he will continue to represent residents in his division to the very best of his abilities. I’d like to thank the Standards Panel for their work on this matter.

“I can announce that I will take on the Cabinet Resources brief temporarily.”