Wiltshire councillor Philip Brown faces a jail sentence after admitting theft and fraud charges involving nearly £50,000 at Swindon Crown Court.

Brown, 60, of Berhills Lane, Rowde, a former Scout district commissioner, appeared before Recorder Simon Levene on Friday and pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and three of theft.

After the case he said he has decided to resign as a Wiltshire councillor “due to my current problems”.

But he told the Gazette the offences were not for his personal gain. He said: “You try to help somebody and then things move on and you end up in all sorts of trouble.”

Mr Brown was working as site administrator for the Old Dairy Exempt Property Unit Trust at the Avonside Enterprise Park in Melksham. The trust owns the site and is a pension fund whose income comes from rents from the firms there.

Between January 15 2007 and February 16 last year Mr Brown falsely concealed £35,000 of unpaid debts owed by tenants.

He said: “These companies were having financial problems so I allowed their debts to run on a bit. Then one of them went bankrupt and it all blew up.

“What annoyed me is that the charge said I did what I did in my own interest but it wasn’t like that at all. What I did was wrong. I should have passed the problem on, but I made a mistake.”

Mr Brown would not comment on the £12,500 cash he has admitted stealing.

On Tuesday he issued a statement which said: “I know I would have the support of many residents of the Bromham, Rowde and Potterne county division to remain as their Wiltshire councillor.

“However, due to my current problems, I feel it is in everyone’s interests to step down, this I will be doing later this week.”

The partners in The Old Dairy Unit Trust are sceptical about Brown’s motives in taking the money.

Roy Dann, who hired Brown in October 2005, said: “So how does that cover the cash he pocketed from some of the tenants? I can’t see how it was helping them to take the money and not pass it on to the trust.”

He added: “I personally feel let down by what Philip has done. He seemed like a good catch for us. He was a councillor and you tend to hold these people in esteem.”

Another partner, John Berrelly, who owns the Lighting Superstore on the Avonside Park, said: “I don’t understand why he is still a councillor.

“He handed himself into the police in February 2009 but after that he was canvassing for the Tory party in the council and general elections. That can’t be right.

“If he doesn’t resign, I shall turn up to council meetings and ask why.”

Brown has been a Wiltshire councillor since the first unitary authority elections in May 2009. Before that he served on Kennet District Council from 2003.

As well as the £35,000 of client debt he concealed, he also admitted three charges of theft. The first count represented £2,592.14 from Radical Fuels, the second £4,422.74 from Nine Volt Leap and the third £5,750 from City Fitness, all on the Avonside Park.

Tim Hills, defending, asked for the case to be adjourned for a pre-sentence report. In calling for the report, Recorder Levene said he was considering all options, including jail. The case was adjourned for sentence until November 24.

Under the Local Government Act, Brown would not be disqualified from holding office unless he is sentenced to at least three months in jail.