Why I’m standing down as a councillor

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Councillor David Fletcher

Dear editor,

The full council meeting (20 March) was a significant event as it was the last before the Borough elections which take place in May.

As I gather is the convention on these occasions, generous tributes were made on a cross-party basis to those members who are not seeking re-election.

A few of these councillors, including Cllrs. Pat Olney (Independent) and Shan Hunt (Labour) who have served their residents with passion and integrity, took the opportunity to reminisce about their time as Councillors.

I was impressed by how well their comments were received.

I was therefore dismayed, if not surprised, to see that the light hearted recollections of Councillor Mark Smith (Conservative), who is standing down after many years of public service, were received with disdain by the Mayor, Dave Hodgson and his deputy, Charles Royden, presumably because he made a mildly critical, but entirely truthful comment about the Lib Dems in his short summary of his experiences as a Councillor: Regardless of the fact that this was an occasion at which old enmities should have been laid to rest they both sat grim faced with raised eyebrows and tightly folded arms as the rest of the members politely acknowledged the contribution Cllr. Smith has made to the life of our town.

When I was young, I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to respect other people even though I disagreed with their views.

The petulant and finger-jabbing delight that certain senior members of Executive take in doing the opposite has contributed to my decision not to stand as a candidate in May.

I believe that I have much to offer the people of Bedford, but I am so dispirited by the confrontational and dismissive way in which the Mayor and some members of his cabinet deal with those who opinions differ from their own, that I am calling it a day as a Councillor – there are plenty of other ways to serve the town which has been my home for most of my life.

Yours faithfully

David Fletcher (Cllr Castle Ward)

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