Uttlesford district councillor Anthony Gerard 'felt compelled' to resign, say Green Party colleagues
An Uttlesford district councillor has resigned because he "felt compelled" to do so, according to his party colleagues.
Green Party member Anthony Gerard has quit as one of the two ward members for Newport – less than a year after he was elected.
His decision was confirmed on Monday (April 27) after the Indie contacted the council to ask why he was no longer listed as an active member. His term apparently ended on April 21.
Mr Gerard, who has not responded to our request for an explanation of his sudden departure, was re-elected in May 2019 as a Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) representative but dropped a bombshell in October by quitting the party and his cabinet role as portfolio holder for resident and community partnerships.
He defected to the Green Party along with fellow R4U executive members Cllrs Paul Fairhurst and Barbara Light, who both represent Saffron Walden. They said he had cited family reasons for his departure.
They said on Tuesday: "It is with profound disappointment and real concern that we learned of the resignation of our friend and colleague, Cllr Anthony Gerard."
They paid tribute to his hard work, particularly in planning and Stansted Airport's controversial application to expand its passenger numbers, and added: "It is surely an indictment of this council that an individual of his calibre and commitment has found himself compelled to resign."
Uttlesford's Liberal Democrat group leader, Stansted North's Cllr Alan Dean, said: "I am saddened that Anthony Gerard has felt compelled to resign. The Greens used the word 'compelled'. If compulsion was involved, I hope that Mr Gerard and anyone else involved will be open about it. They owe it to the council."
The leader of R4U and the council, Cllr John Lodge, said of Mr Gerard's decision: "I have been given no information on why he resigned or felt compelled to resign. He has not communicated with me as leader of UDC or R4U as a party."
Cllr Lodge said he was therefore "unable to agree or disagree" with the Greens' statement.
Cllr Susan Barker, the leader of Uttlesford's Conservatives and an Essex County Council member, said: "I am saddened that Cllr Gerard, who has been on the council almost three years, has resigned. The only information that I have received is that he cited 'family reasons'. I have no other knowledge.
"It is also a pity that the residents of his ward will be under-represented at this time when important decisions are being made."
Mr Gerard leaves the council at a critical point with the race to complete a new local plan, after two failed attempts, by the Government's December 2023 deadline and the prospect of a costly planning inquiry into UDC's decision to reverse permission for passenger growth at Stansted Airport.
He will not be replaced until next year, because of the coronavirus crisis. Newport voters will go to the polls on May 6, 2021, when the delayed Police Fire and Crime Commissioner election and the scheduled Essex County Council elections are both due to take place.
The political make-up of the 39-seat UDC is now 22 R4U, 7 Lib Dems, 4 Conservatives, two Greens, two Independents and one unspecified, with one vacancy.