A COUNCIL leader has promised to resign in the wake of a Lancashire Telegraph investigation revealing he faced three inquiries over claims of bullying and misconduct.

Ribble Valley Tory boss Ken Hind has told Conservative group colleagues he will stand down in the New Year.

In October the paper revealed the 69-year-old barrister was the ‘subject’ of a Ribble Valley Council inquiry into a complaint of bullying by Conservative colleague Cllr Sue Bibby.

Police said yesterday that after ‘looking into’ a complaint alleging possible misconduct in public office, the case had been closed with ‘no further action’.

The former West Lancashire MP still faces a possible probe by the Conservative Party nationally after the council investigation, which is still live, is completed.

Cllr Hind will stay on as councillor for Dilworth and stand for re-election in May.

His resignation as leader has been welcomed by his opposition counterparts Cllrs Terry Hill and Allan Knox.

The three-month investigation followed the shock resignation in July of three councillors from the council Tory group.

Two more councillors later quit the party to join the new Democratic Conservatives group and then three more voted for an opposition motion of no confidence in his leadership at October’s full council.

Cllr Hind said: “After 35 years in public life as an MP and councillor, I have decided to give up the leadership of the Ribble Valley Borough Council and the Conservative councillors’ group in the New Year.

“I am now retired and not getting any younger. I will be there to support and give advice when asked.

“It has been a great privilege to lead a borough council. I am not standing down as a councillor. I will remain to support my successor and continue to represent my constituents.

“I will be concentrating on making sure as many Conservatives candidates as possible are returned as councillors at the May council election.”

He is understood to be under pressure from Conservative councillors to resign immediately after a council spokeswoman confirmed the investigation into Cllr Bibby’s complaint continues.

Cllr Hind told Tory councillors in an email: “I have decided to give up the leadership of the Conservative Group in the New Year on my return from holiday. There needs to be an orderly transition to a new leader.

“It is important that we unite in the group and avoid the criticisms of our opponents that we are divided. When I step down these criticisms hopefully will cease.”

Cllr Hill, leader of the Democratic Conservatives said: “As welcome as this is, it appears tobe only an intention to resign as leader.

“The honourable course would be to resign from the council as well.”

Cllr Knox, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “His time has been up for several months. In September, the council’s chief executive talked about him interfering in a complaint against him, which led to a motion of no confidence where he scraped through by a mere seven votes. From then on he was dead man walking.”

Salthill ward’s Cllr Ian Brown, who backed the no-confidence motion, said: “It has been a sad, sorry episode for everyone, especially the reputation of the council. There are no winners or losers but Ken can now depart with some dignity.”

Cllr Ged Mirfin, deputy chair of Ribble Valley Conservative Association, said: “He is right to stand down at this juncture. The challenges faced by council leaders are huge and he has been under enormous strain because of the complaint.”