'Interesting but frustrating' - Councillor resigns with parting shot

Breckland councillor Alison Webb opens the Yaxham play area with Ian Martin, Chris Couves and Bob Gu

Ian Martin, a Conservative, has announced his resignation from both Yaxham and Breckland councils. - Credit: Breckland Council

A councillor has announced his resignation due to ill health - with a parting shot criticising the influence of party politics on local government.

Ian Martin, a Conservative member of Breckland Council released a statement to say he was stepping down.

In it, Mr Martin - who has represented the district’s Mattishall ward since 2019 - said he had been “trying to overcome health challenges for the past year” and as a result had missed a number of council meetings. 

These challenges included chronic fatigue syndrome, a fall which fractured his right shoulder, and a diagnosis of early stage Motor Neurone Disease. 

“All this means, with my current fatigue and muscle wastage, which can only get worse, that I cannot fulfil my responsibilities in the way that I would wish to,” Mr Martin wrote.

He added that his time on Breckland had “been an interesting, but also a very frustrating, experience”.

His letter read: “My one request to fellow members is to make more meaningful the phrase ‘Breckland is a member lead council’.

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“Too often in the past three years this has not always been evident.

“The application of party politics to issues that should not be party political is not good.

“The temptation to do things behind closed doors where possible or to seek to close-down debate needs also to be resisted.

“As elected members we are here to represent our residents to Breckland, and explain Breckland to our residents.

“Breckland Council is after all the residents’ council – not the members’ council. It is not our council – it is theirs.”

Five months ago, Mr Martin had worked with opposition members to encourage the council’s cabinet to speed up its timetable in reviewing the district’s local plan.

The councillor was among those concerned about the timetable's perceived slowness leaving communities vulnerable to aggressive housing applications. 

But their bid for a faster timetable was ultimately blocked by the authority’s Conservative majority

The council’s deputy leader Paul Claussen said the news of Mr Martin’s resignation had “come as a bit of a shock”.

Breckland Council's executive member for planning Paul Claussen. Picture: Supplied

Paul Claussen, who serves as Breckland Council's deputy leader, said Mr Martin had been a "well respected and much valued" member of the authority. - Credit: Archant

“All things considered, it’s a very great shame - it’s a really sad way for somebody to have to step down from the district council,” said Mr Claussen, who added that Mr Martin had been a “well respected and much valued” member. 

Regarding the former councillor’s frustrations with Breckland, Mr Claussen said it wasn’t a description he recognised.

Mr Martin has also announced his resignation from Yaxham Parish Council, on which he was serving as chairman.