Senior Conservative, and Blackpool MP, resigns his Brighouse seat on Calderdale Council
A senior Conservative is stepping down from his West Yorkshire council seat in this May’s local elections.
Councillor Scott Benton has represented the Brighouse ward since 2011 and is a former Leader of Calderdale Council’s Conservative group. He was elected as the Tory MP for Blackpool South in the December 2019 General Election.
Coun Benton’s retention of his council seat in Calderdale while serving as an MP in Blackpool has been controversial and his announcement that he is stepping down has coincided with a petition on the 38Degrees website calling for his resignation, alleging he had admitted doing eight hours’ council work a month while receiving the monthly £879.92 basic allowance councillors receive, and as such was “letting Brighouse down.”
Coun Benton has said he has given this money to charity.
This week Coun Benton defended his record and said the petition was “a petty political stunt” arranged when political opponents knew he was resigning.
Coun Benton has said he was going to resign his seat in 2020 – but the local elections were then cancelled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
He said this week: “In 2019, I was re-elected with the biggest majority in Brighouse of any candidate for over 40 years and I proudly stand by my record of serving the community over the last ten years.
“Very few, if any, community meetings have taken place over the past year because of Covid and so all councillors in Calderdale will have attended less community events and meetings than in a usual year.
“I’ve attended all of the council meetings I was required to attend over the past 12 months – more than can be said for other councillors – and I have assisted all of those Brighouse residents who have contacted me for help since being an MP.”
He has thanked Brighouse and Clifton residents for their support over the years and hoped they would support the Conservative candidates for the ward in the local elections on May 6 – they include Tina Benton, who is Coun Benton’s mother, and Brenda Monteith.
Earlier this year the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, found he had breached Parliamentary rules, including failing to register some financial interests including some of his councillor’s allowance, within the specified time frame, for which he has apologised.
The inquiry was concluded through Parliament’s rectification procedure as the commissioner said she considered the breach at the less serious end of the spectrum.
Local Democracy Reporting Service