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South Kesteven councillor quits after criticising culture of 'bullying and intimidation'

A councillor has quit after criticising a culture of “bullying and intimidation” at South Kesteven District Council.

Councillor Jan Hansen was elected for the Toller ward, around Folkingham, in 2019.

In his resignation letter, he claims he faced abuse as both a candidate and an elected official.

Jan Hansen in front of his Folkingham chocolate business. (60536872)
Jan Hansen in front of his Folkingham chocolate business. (60536872)

He says his three and a half years in politics has “pushed his conscience to the limit”, and he had no option but to step down.

The council says that all complaints are handled according to the code of conduct.

Martin Hill, the leader of Lincolnshire County Council, who represents the Folkingham area at a county level, criticised the cost of an additional by-election, which has been set for December 15.

Mr Hansen is a local businessman who ran the Chocolate House for more than 30 years.

In his statement, he said: “There are good, decent members of the local community, who made considerable sacrifices to get elected onto local councils and clean up the tarnished image of local politics.

“Sadly, along the way, candidates are often subjected to a culture of bullying and intimidation. The journey is an eye opener, and often not very pleasant experience.

“Sadly, if successful in getting elected, these negative experiences do not necessarily cease, and may in fact actually increase.

“All too often, I have witnessed senior figures in local government say on occasions what they feel will further their cases, without paying attention to factual accuracy.

“The culture of bullying and intimidation certainly never ceases.

“As an elected representative for Toller Ward, I have found that my conscience has been tested to the limit, and more recently, pushed over the limit.”

He alleges he has seen “abuse of power in positions of authority in local government in an attempt to bully and gain political advantage.”

His statement continues: “I am not prepared to compromise my conscience, and do not wish to be associated with these goings on any longer.

“It has been a positive experience helping local residents with various issues, particularly in dealing with ‘red tape’ situations in local government. I wish I could say the same regarding my dealings with various tribal politicians.

“I can honestly say that during my three and a half years as a councillor, serving in the public interest was always my number one priority.”

Mr Hansen ran the Chocolate House in Folkingham from 2005 before closing it earlier this year. He says he is looking at other business opportunities but is unlikely to start up a chocolate business in Lincolnshire again.

A statement from South Kesteven District Council said: “We can confirm that Councillor Jan Hansen has resigned as the South Kesteven district councillor for the Toller Ward and that a by-election has been called for December 15.

“Should any complaints be received they are processed under SKDC’s adopted codes of conduct, which are in place for both councillors and officers.”

Councillor Martin Hill, the leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said he was not aware of any issues at the council.

He said: “It is disappointing that he chose to resign last week, causing a totally unnecessary by election with the associated cost and disruption when we are within a few months within all out district elections next May."

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