Two councillors stand down in Hatfield as borough gears up for elections
PUBLISHED: 12:31 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 26 March 2019
Two Welwyn Hatfield borough councillors have announced their intention to stand down, leaving vacancies in two Hatfield wards.
The returning officer posted notices that the Conservative councillor Kerstin Holman-Schmidt, for Hatfield East, and Labour councillor John Fitzpatrick, for Hatfield South West, were standing down on March 15.
Cllr Fitzpatrick, who was elected to the borough council in 2014 and is also standing down from a Hatfield Town Council seat, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that he wanted to spend more time with family after a bereavement in recent years.
“It’s time to step back,” he said. “It’s been a valuable experience.
“It was a privilege to be selected, it really was.”
In his time as councillor, houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), the Highview Hilltop development, and children’s play areas have been some of the issues he’s focused on.
He also is proud to have “stirred things up a bit,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed that - every time I opened my mouth in council, it seems,” he joked.
“I’ll try and remind people that there are other views out there.”
He spoke about the Labour candidate who intends to stand in his place, Lenny Brandon, who is currently leader of Hatfield town council.
“He’s a character and he’s passionate,” said Cllr Fitzpatrick. “He believes in Hatfield and he will always stir things up when needed.
“He has his own style but he’s incredibly focused and committed to what he does.”
Cllr Tony Kingsbury, leader of the council, said that Cllr Holman-Schmidt was standing down for personal reasons.
In her capacity as councillor she has stood on numerous committees including the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as well as the Development Consultation Forum.
Cllr Kingsbury said: “I would like very much to thank her and anyone else who’s been a councillor for the work they’ve done.”
The Conservatives intending to stand in her ward of Hatfield East, where two seats will be fought for, are Ed Bolton and Caron Juggins.
Until now, Hatfield East was fully controlled by the Conservatives, while Labour held all three positions in Hatfield West.
The resignations widen the possibility that at the upcoming council elections, the Conservatives could lose their current grip on the executive branch of the council, the Cabinet.
With 25 councillors out of 48, the Conservatives have had overall control by a majority of one councillor, meaning they can take all seven Cabinet seats.
The Conservatives losing overall control would trigger coalition talks, in which rival parties are likely to gain seats at the Cabinet.