Senior councillor standing down

Coun Hilary Thompson
Coun Hilary Thompson

A SENIOR councillor has outlined the reasons why she decided not to stand in the forthcoming all-out local elections.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson, part of Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s three-strong cabinet committee, will step down in May.

Coun Thompson, who represents the Elwick ward, said it has been a “pleasure and privilege” but feels now is the right time to stand down.

The married mum of two was elected at a by-election in September 2009 following the death of the well-respected Stan Kaiser.

On May 3, the number of councillors will be cut from 47 to 33 with wards reduced from 17 to 11 as part of a major electoral shake-up by the Boundary Commission.

Coun Thompson said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be councillor for Elwick Ward, representing a large and diverse area stretching from Hart to Wynyard. As big an area as all the other wards put together

“I trust I have also made a difference in the town as a whole through my work on cabinet and the excellent working relationships I’ve had with officers and staff.

“It has not been easy to step down as a councillor after two-and-a-half-years and there are several reasons for my decision.

“I believe sincerely that party politics should take a back seat in the running of our town, but in recent months it has been very much to the fore causing unpleasantness, ill-feeling and, in my opinion, some wrong decisions for the town to be voted through.

“A second reason is my disappointment and disillusionment that the Boundary Commission went against its own guidelines for the rural area.

“It ignored community links and allowed it to lose its identity in order to make the numbers fit the new rural west ward.

“At least the name was my suggestion. The rural area is where I live, and my heart is just not in the fight to represent a large urban area.”

Coun Thompson is “satisfied” with her achievements and said she was particularly pleased that a lifeline bus service for Elwick and Dalton Piercy is back up and running.

Both villages were without public transport after the withdrawl of bus services due to budget cuts but a free trial service, courtesy of town firm Pauls Travel, has recently been extended.

Coun Thompson, who is married to Roderick and lives in Elwick Village, said: “I remain involved in the Rural Development Plan which covers the whole of rural Hartlepool, and will also continue my links with Tees Valley Rural Community Council.

“Retirement beckons, with many, many things yet to do. Maybe more time to spend with my husband who has always given me so much support.

“I leave the council satisfied with what I have achieved for the town, and I’m particularly pleased that the bus service from two of our villages is now running again and reinstating a lifeline for the elderly across the town.

“Whoever is elected on May 3, I wish the Mayor, councillors, officers and staff a good new start and all the best for the future of Hartlepool Borough Council.”