THE disgraced former chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is seeking re-election to North Yorkshire County Council.

Mr Robert Heseltine, who resigned from both authorities after being convicted of fiddling expenses, confirmed his nomination papers had been deposited.

But a letter to the D&S Times signed by five current and former members said: "We do not consider Mr Heseltine to be a proper person to serve on any public authority."

Last year, Mr Heseltine was sentenced by Teesside crown court to 240 hours of community service after admitting 12 charges of false accounting. The sum involved, which included false expenses claims to the county council and park authority, totalled more than £1,400 and he asked for 11 other offences to be taken into consideration.

Mr Heseltine said public pressure had led to his bid for re-election to the county council.

"I have been humbled by the continuing loyalty, kindness and friendship that people have shown me over these past 18 very difficult months for myself, my family and friends," he said.

"When I am shopping in Skipton people are at me all the time to become involved in public life on their behalf again. I was ready for a rest but have had time to reflect and recharge my batteries.

"Within a democracy it is the public who say who they wish and don't wish to represent them. If people wish me to stand for election I will be good enough to stand and, if elected, I will get on and do the best I can for them."

He maintained he had done nothing wrong. "I have never done anything untoward. Any expenses I claimed were in the best of faith and my conscience is absolutely clear.

"It is a judgment for the electorate to make, not for a number of vindictive members of another authority."

A national park spokesman said agreement had been reached through Mr Heseltine's solicitor for repayment of the amount owing to the authority to be made by cheque today or early next week.

l Letters to the Editor: page 20.