Councillor Julia Baker-Smith.

Whippingham and Osborne Councillor Julia Baker-Smith has resigned, a year after she relocated to Manchester.

She had argued that she was able to maintain her role by splitting her time on the Island and at home, as others had done before her. But she says that has now changed after she began a full-time job.

Today she said,

“I have today, handed in my resignation to the monitoring officer of the Isle of Wight Council. I have been giving this careful consideration for some time and have discussed it in depth with the local labour party.

“It has been no secret that for the last few months I have been working part time on the mainland, splitting my time between the Island and Manchester.

“I have now been offered a full time position as a domestic abuse liaison officer for the NHS, working on a new pilot project that seeks to improve the journey of survivors of domestic violence and abuse, an area many people will know I am extremely passionate about. I will therefor need to focus my energies on this new role, making the previous level of travel I have been doing unsustainable, and feel that it would be best for the residents of Whippingham and Osborne if they are represented by someone able to give them 100% of their focus.

“I have worked with some incredible people over the last six years, both within the Council and across the Island and am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to make even a small difference, both locally within the ward and on a wider level in my previous role on the Council’s Executive.

“I would like to thank the residents of East Cowes and Whippingham for choosing me to represent them since 2013 and wish my successor the very best in looking after the area I will always call home.”

There had been pressure for her to reconsider her position from local residents and political figures on the Isle of Wight. She had already stepped down from East Cowes Town Council. The former Independent leader joined Labour in May 2018.

Reacting, the party thanked her for her service and work in the ward, including:

– Facilitating the refurbishment and re-opening of the Parkside Pavilion, a community centre in the heart of the ward that is going from strength to strength. 
– Helping the Medina Park Residents to raise the funds for a mini bus after the main bus
service was lost and arranged long term sustainable funding reversing the isolation they had previously experienced. 
– Campaigning to have a multi use games area and outdoor gym installed at Victoria
recreation ground. 
– Preventing the development of an Asphalt Plant next to the River Medina.
– Working to have the Frank James Hospital building restored. 

Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said:

“Julia has been an excellent councillor for the residents of Whippingham and Osborne, and her achievements speak for themselves. With a new full-time job in Manchester, she didn’t feel able to devote the time and energy to her ward here on the Island, and it’s a testimony to her sense of responsibility that she has put those residents’ interests first.”

It means a by-election will now take place in the ward.