Burnham and Highbridge district councillor Joe Leach resigned from his position on Wednesday (December 5th), prompting a by-election over the next few months.
Joe, 25, had been a district councillor in the Highbridge and Burnham Marine ward for six years. He was also leader of Sedgemoor Liberal Democrats.
Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, he explained his decision: “The reason for this is due to a change of career which has resulted in my new position being politically restricted. Therefore I can no longer effectively perform my duty as a local councillor.”
“I am deeply saddened to no longer be able to represent the towns I have lived in all my life. I love them both very much and as I have always said, the community spirit here is stronger than anywhere else I have visited.”
He added: “I am proud of the work the community has done here over the last six years and I have had the privilege of being a district councillor, often in the face of impossible odds.”
The councillor said his proudest achievement had been the campaign to save Queen Square in Highbridge.
“It was the first time a Housing Association had been beaten on appeal. It was a great campaign headed by the community and councillors from across the political spectrum – a true showing of non-partisan co-operation which was the reason for our positive result.”
He said that he was “incredibly proud” to speak at the Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Brighton this autumn where he addressed the important issue of mental health.
Joe added that his biggest disappointment has been the failure to get any firm resolution to the Highbridge Hotel and market site.
“Whilst things are indeed moving forward, it has been far too long in getting sorted. I am sad that upon leaving the council, this still remains one of the most important items on Highbridge’s ‘to do’ list.”
He went on to say: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all my supporters, friends, family and colleagues for the encouragement, help and faith they have had in me over the years.”
“Being elected at just 19 years old in 2007 was a steep learning curve, and I can only hope that whilst I may not have been the world’s best councillor, that I certainly tried to make a positive difference to many people’s lives. Thank you, for all you have taught me, and keep up the good fight – it’s not over yet!”
“I wish my successor, whoever it may be, all the best, and hope that they have the best interests of our towns at the very heart of every decision they make.”
Joe says he will not be standing in next year’s county council elections. He had been selected to represent the Lib Dems in the Highbridge ward. Meanwhile, a by-election will be held for the vacant district council in the New Year.
Burnham and Highbridge Lib Dems leader Phil Harvey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I am delighted for Joe – this is as a good career move for him. It’s certainly sad for the rest of us, though, as he has worked well for the party and locally in the community. He will be a big hole to fill and we wish him well for the future.”