John Robertson resignation: Independent councillor quits South Tyneside Council - but vows to stand again in by-election to fill the vacancy
An independent councillor has dramatically resigned his seat – only to say he will stand again in the forthcoming by-election triggered to fill the vacancy.
John Robertson who represented the Fellgate and Hedworth ward, resigned from South Tyneside Council, posting his resignation letter on Facebook and stating it was with ‘immediate effect’.
However, Mr Robertson then decided to retract his resignation, but was told this was not possible under laws governing councils.
Cllr Robertson has been a controversial figure on the council since his election in 2019, when he claimed the seat from Labour.
This has included being hauled before the council’s standards committee and made subject to sanctions on separate occasions.
The first was after claims he bullied a Labour councillor on Facebook, the second after abusive communications sent to Matt Brown, executive director of operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group.
The Gazette tried to contact Mr Robertson a number of times in relation to his resignation.
However, in a statement on Facebook, the former councillor posted: “After numerous phone calls and messages of support I contacted the council to try and retract my resignation.
“The council has informed me that I cannot retract my resignation, as such I AM NO LONGER A COUNCILLOR.
“The stress of the recent Standards Committee hearings and the events of the past three years has taken its toll and I will now take a break.
“I would like to thank all of the people who have messaged me and contacted me in the past 24 hours.
“The council will be arranging a by-election and I WILL be standing again for election.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to represent the good people of Hedworth Fellgate & Calf Close and beyond.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council confirmed Mr Robertson’s resignation.
They said: “We can confirm that John Robertson resigned as Elected Member for Fellgate and Hedworth with immediate effect on 9 June 2021.
“A vacancy in the ward will be declared at the next meeting of borough council.”
The council also pointed the Local Government Act 1972, which states a councillor’s resignation takes effect immediately upon the receipt of the notice.
Mr Robertson had been part of the South Tyneside Independents Group, the main opposition on the council, which replaced the former ‘independent alliance’ he led.
Westoe councillor Glenn Thompson became the leader of the new group when it was formed after May’s local elections.