A SENIOR county councillor has resigned after he was accused of a conflict of interest over a multi-million pound contract award.

Tory Derrick Louis has stepped down as councillor responsible for corporate services after admitting his register of interests was “not fully up to date”.

He is a non-executive chairman of Provide Community Interest Company, which has been awarded a £10million five-year contract to provide “lifestyle services” across Essex.

Labour rivals, including Keith Bobbin, councillor for Pitsea, have “called-in” the contract award to a scrutiny meeting on Thursday, questioning Mr Louis’s role.

Their submission to the council asked for assurances from Mr Louis, councillor for Witham South, that he “had no input on the bid process”.

Today, Mr Louis offered his resignation as a cabinet member after admitting his register of members’ interests was out-of-date.

He said: “Although these omissions were not deliberate and were an oversight on my part I feel it appropriate that I should leave the cabinet as it is my wish that no harm or speculation should surround the Conservative administration.

“There is currently a 'call-in' by Labour which questions my role in relation to a decision to award a contract for lifestyle services to Provide CIC.

“I can state categorically that I had no role whatsoever in the procurement or award of that contract and did not in any way seek to influence the decision or the process.

“Whilst I have not done anything dishonest, I have no wish to cause the leader, my cabinet colleagues or my Conservative group any embarrassment.”

Provide, based in Colchester, is due to take on the new five-year contract, which will include stop smoking initiatives and public health training for staff, on Friday, April 1.

The company was chosen ahead of four other bidders as the preferred option for the contract.

Council leader David Finch said: “I am very clear that we as leading politicians in Essex have to be beyond reproach in our private and business lives and must conduct ourselves to the highest standards that the voting public expect and demand.

“It is a true mark of the strength of character of Mr Louis that he has taken this step voluntarily especially when you consider that this has been a simple omission and nothing more.”

Mr Louis will remain as a ward councillor.