Norwich city councillor appears in court, charged with arson
A Norwich city councillor has appeared in court charged with arson at a flat where he used to live.
Steven Altman, 26, Green councillor for Wensum ward, appeared in the dock at Norwich magistrates' court yesterday .
The charge against him is that he damaged by fire an address in College Road, off Earlham Road, Norwich belonging to Robin Whittaker intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged.
The councillor, who now lives in St Leonards Road, Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich, spoke in court only to confirm his name, address and age.
He was released on unconditional bail and will be tried at Norwich Crown Court on August 1.
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Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group, said that Mr Altman was continuing to work as a councillor.
She said: 'It's been a difficult time for Steven since the fire in his flat. His friends and colleagues are giving him all the support he needs and he continues to work alongside us as a councillor.'
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If a councillor is found guilty of a crime within five years of the day of election or since his election and receives a sentence of three months or more - then they are disqualified from being a councillor, but if cleared or convicted with a sentence of less than three months then they are free to continue.
Mr Altman is a former president of the University of East Anglia student union and is in his second stint as a city councillor.
He represented Mancroft ward from 2006 to 2007 before he was replaced by the previous Lord Mayor of Norwich Tom Dylan.
Mr Altman made a comeback in September last year in the elections which were triggered when 13 councillors were made to step down after the former Labour government's decision to hand Norwich unitary status was declared unlawful.
He triumphed in Wensum ward with 887 votes - 144 votes ahead of his nearest challenger, Labour's Vaughan Thomas.
His profile on the Norwich City Council website states that his main areas of interest are transport and tackling antisocial behaviour, while in his spare time he enjoys playing the classical guitar.
The Green Party are currently the opposition party at Norwich City Council. They have 15 city councillors compared to Labour's 18, the four Liberal Democrats and the two Conservatives.