Ambitious young councillor resigns for '˜personal reasons'

The deputy mayor of Fareham has quit his elected role as a councillor, The News can reveal.

Tuesday, 26th September 2017, 9:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 3:26 pm
Former deputy mayor of Fareham Chris Wood. Picture: Sarah Standing

Chris Wood, who was elected to Stubbington ward, was given the chain of deputy office in May – but yesterday resigned completely from the council.

Detailed reasons for his decision have not been made clear, with the borough council’s leader saying ‘personal reasons’ were behind the move.

In a statement issued to The News this morning Mr Wood said: ‘I leave my position with a very heavy heart because I have loved being a councillor for the last four and a half years, however circumstances are such that I don’t believe I am able to continue.

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Former deputy mayor of Fareham Chris Wood. Picture: Sarah Standing

‘I’m very sorry to those who have supported me.’

The News understands Mr Wood is due to start a new job with the Ministry of Defence in Abbey Wood on Monday.

Now residents in Stubbington ward can expect to go to the polls in November to elect a replacement for the Tory politician.

It comes after Mr Wood was dealt a hammer blow earlier this year after not being chosen by the Conservatives to run as their candidate in Crofton at the Hampshire County Council election in May.

Former deputy mayor of Fareham Chris Wood. Picture: Sarah Standing

A long-running appeals process ended in Pal Hayre being selected.

Mr Wood had previously won the division as a Ukip councillor but had quit that party in October last year saying Ukip was ‘toxified’.

The 28-year-old was previously a member of the Tories before standing as a Ukip councillor for Hampshire in 2013 and Fareham in 2014.

Outspoken in his views, Mr Wood has previously made national headlines for hitting out at the BBC over casting a black actor, Sophie Okonedo, for the role of French Queen Margaret of Anjou in The Hollow Crown.

Speaking to The News, Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward – who welcomed Mr Wood back to the Tory party – confirmed the departure.

‘He has resigned, he resigned yesterday,’ Cllr Woodward said.

‘There will be a by-election in November.’

Asked why Mr Wood, a former Bay House School pupil, was resigning, Cllr Woodward said: ‘Personal reasons he’s cited.’

Cllr Woodward refused to be drawn on any further details.

George McAleese, chairman of Gosport Conservatives – which covers Stubbington in its constituency – said it was a ‘pity’.

He said: ‘It’s a pity because he is a very good politician.’

Warsash ward councillor Trevor Cartwright said: ‘He’s worked very well mainly in his own ward and as deputy mayor.’

Mr Wood, a Royal Navy reservist, was elected to Stubbington ward in May 2014 and was due to stand again in May next year.

Until last year he was Crofton division councillor at the county council, having been elected in 2013 as a Ukip candidate.

He has previously stood for election as Ukip’s MP candidate in Gosport in 2015.

A Fareham Borough Council spokeswoman said: ‘The resignation causes a casual vacancy which will remain vacant until such time as two registered electors write to the Returning Officer to request a by-election.

‘This will then follow a strict timetable and the poll will be held within 35 working days.’

Cllr Carolyn Heneghan, for Ukip, is the only Stubbington ward member in post.