Councillor set to stand down

John Marshall

John Marshall

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A LONG-STANDING councillor is to stand down in May after 15 years in the role.

Independent councillor John Marshall, who serves the St Hilda ward, has put his house up for sale and wants to start a new life down south and open a pub or cafe as a family business.

Coun Marshall has just returned from a four-week suspension over claims of “bullying” environment officers in Hartlepool Borough Council’s environment protection team in a row over “dust”.

The 60-year-old strenuously denied those claims, but didn’t appeal the suspension.

Coun Marshall said medical problems are beginning to take their toll, and he is looking to hand over the reigns to someone younger.

The dad-of-one suffers with tinnutis and deprivation of the ear canal, which causes him sleep deprivation.

Stress compounds his hearing problems and he said the past few months have “made it worse”.

Coun Marshall will remain as councillor until the May election, but has vowed to help Headland residents until he leaves town.

He said: “In no way has the efforts of those that made the complaint made me want to step down as councillor.

“It has added to it, but there are a lot of other factors.

“I want to thank all those people that supported me over the years.”

Headland residents claim their lives have been blighted for 20 years by dust from businesses on Victoria Dock.

Years of campaigning and public meetings were dismissed last year when a report by a public health professor found there was no health risk.

The issue took a new twist in December when the council’s standards committee upheld two complaints made about Coun Marshall’s conduct during the investigation and he was suspended for a month.

The full council will meet tonight to determine whether his basic allowance for the four-week period should be withheld.

If councillors withhold the allowance then Coun Marshall wants the money, around £300, to be donated to Hartlepool & District Hospice which he described as an “excellent organisation”.

Coun Marshall, who wants to make a “clean break” from Hartlepool, said: “I will not apologise for something that I have not done.

“They have done what they have done, and it was pointless appealing.

“Every time I try to protect people’s rights I think I’m going to get a complaint from someone, and that makes it very difficult to work in that situation.

“I don’t see an alternative and I am doing what is best for my family.”

The former vice-chair of the council says he has made a lot of friends and an “awful lot of enemies” during his time as councillor.

Coun Marshall, who served with the Royal Engineers for 13 years, lives in St Helen’s Street with partner Darlene Flounders, 51.

The full council meets at 7pm tonight at the civic centre, in Victoria Road.