Legoland trip Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes resigns
The co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council, who returned home early from a foreign conference because he was unhappy with his accommodation, has resigned.
Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes was due to attend the North Sea Commission at Legoland in Denmark in June.
But the delegation returned early as he was not happy with their cabins.
Mr Kitts-Hayes said he took the decision to resign with immediate effect on Monday, but was asked to defer this until 29 September.
The abortive trip cost nearly £3,500.
He was also accused of a cover-up after telling his personal assistant not to tell anyone the delegation had returned home.
The full council is due to consider an internal report - which revealed last week that Mr Kitts-Hayes felt his Legoland accommodation was like a "glorified shed" - on Thursday.
Jim Savege, chief executive of Aberdeenshire Council, said: "I can confirm that I received notification from Cllr Kitts-Hayes of his intention to resign from his post as co-leader of the council and chair of the policy and resources committee."
Fellow co-leader councillor Richard Thomson said: "I believe that the decision to step down was the correct one under the circumstances, and that this timescale - which Cllr Kitts-Hayes agreed to at the request of Aberdeenshire's Partnership Administration - is in the best interests of the continued smooth running of the council.
"Clearly, a reshuffle of positions and responsibilities is now needed within the administration. We will now begin the necessary processes within the administration to allow that to happen and will present any changes that we seek to make to the full council meeting on 29 September."
Mr Kitts-Hayes, of the Progressive Independent Group, raised concerns in a newspaper at the weekend about the cost of a special council meeting to discuss the trip.
The councillor was quoted in the Press and Journal as saying the special meeting could cost the council £10,000.
The figure was based on potential travel expenses for councillors, and the time of council officers.
Leader of the Aberdeenshire Alliance, Councillor Jim Gifford, said: "It is welcome news that at last Cllr Kitts Hayes has faced up to his responsibilities and resigned although we are less than impressed at his decision to work out some sort of notice period and put it off for another four or five weeks.
"It is disappointing that his statement made no real apology and again appears to be trying to blame others. He has signally failed to apologise properly to the hard working and dedicated officers of the council who have been dragged into this debacle of his making."
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, councillor Karen Clark, said: "This resignation is long overdue and the fact that it has come only a couple of days before the crunch council meeting does not add much honour to Cllr Kitts Hayes position.
"However, his statement suggests that the administration are content for him to work out his notice. That is not acceptable."
Councillor Norman Smith, Independent Group co-ordinator, said: "This resignation was long overdue and the idea that it won't take effect for another four or five weeks is a slap in the face to our valued officers who have become embroiled in this sorry business.
"We have called for his immediate resignation and will continue to do so."
Mr Kitts-Hayes - the councillor for Inverurie and District and co-council leader with the SNP's Richard Thomson - said in June that his decision to return early from Denmark had been a "poor one".
Council chief executive Mr Savege is carrying out a further investigation into the actions of those with access to the internal report - which was sent to councillors in confidence - after an earlier leak to the media.