A SENIOR Oxfordshire councillor has resigned his leadership post following a Twitter spat which led to a series of complaints.

Liam Walker, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Highways Delivery and Operations has written a resignation letter from his role in the authority’s leadership group.

In his letter of resignation to council leader Ian Hudspeth, Mr Walker revealed he was standing down because the council’s monitoring officer had found his conduct on Twitter ‘breached the code of conduct set by the Council’.

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The council confirmed this was the outcome of its complaints panel.

Complaints were made against Mr Walker because of a Tweet he wrote in reply to another Twitter user in October.

Mr Walker had shared a newspaper article about transport, leading to discussion of cycling uptake in the Netherlands.

Underneath, a Twitter user called @JohnCarline3 wrote: “Cyclists constantly w**king off the dutch [sic]. F**k off over there then.”

And Mr Walker replied: “Well put in a way people would complain if I said the same.”

The councillor later deleted the tweet.

In his resignation letter, Mr Walker wrote: “I have already apologised to those who were genuinely offended by the tweet.

“It is regrettable that the process has taken up valuable staff time and that taxpayers’ money has been used to investigate; at times, aspects of the response have felt disproportionate.

“I have always spoken freely and engaged with councillors and members of the public on social media where many others choose not to. The freedom to exchange frank views is a core part of our democracy and should be defended. My job is to speak frankly and to do my best for the residents of Oxfordshire.”

Addressing council leader Mr Hudspeth, he added: “After meeting with yourself and discussing this conclusion with you I have therefore taken the very difficult decision to resign from my role on cabinet at Oxfordshire County Council at the end of this month.”

Mr Walker will continue in his role as the local councillor for Hanborough and Minster Lovell.

A council spokesman said: “A panel consisting of members of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee met to advise the Monitoring Officer whether there had a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct by Councillor Liam Walker’s actions on social media.

“The panel’s view was that Councillor Walker has breached the member’s code of conduct. The Monitoring Officer will report this Decision to the Audit & Governance Committee and Full Council.”

Mr Walker’s boss, Conservative council leader Mr Hudspeth, defended his colleague when asked about the tweet during November’s full council meeting.

At the time, he described Mr Walker as a 'strong supporter of active travel', a term which means walking and cycling.

He also said Mr Walker was 'often seen out riding in his division whilst also reporting potholes that could be a danger to fellow cyclists.'

After receiving Mr Walker’s letter of resignation, Mr Hudspeth said: “It is with deep regret that I accept Councillor Walker’s resignation. I thank him for the hard work he has undertaken in his cabinet post during 2020.”

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