Dedicated Bury St Edmunds councillor Paul Farmer standing down after 12 years service due to health reasons

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- Credit: Contributed

After 12 years serving the town of Bury St Edmunds, Paul Farmer MBE is standing down in May, making way for someone “much younger and fitter”.

The Conservative councillor has represented the Abbeygate ward, both on the backbenches and as a member of the cabinet, and is standing down due to health reasons.

Respected across the political divide, Mr Farmer was heavily involved in pushing for the still highly controversial arc shopping complex.

He said: “It is a great honour to be a representative of the people at whatever level it is and I am thankful to voters, for their loyalty and support.”

He charts helping residents fight “oppressive” planning applications as some of his proudest moments, with the introduction of the Cumulative Impact (licensing) Policy in the historic core zone his lasting legacy.

He said: “The policy means that whenever a new application comes up, they have to consider the cumulative impact it could have on those in the historic core of Bury. It has benefitted many residents since it was introduced, and will continue to do so.”

The piano-playing Mr Farmer, who has raised more than £1,000 for charity through his music, was first elected in 2003. At the last election in 2011, he won his seat with 60% of the vote, shortly after standing down from Cabinet due to health reasons.

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Looking ahead to what he plans to do next, he said: “I plan to spend the summer doing some intensive gardening, I have just bought a greenhouse and hope to spend a lot of time in there.

“I will be putting my feet up, not worrying about answering phone calls and emails every day. After that, I would like to return to some sort of charitable role part time, where I can still help people.”

He said he hopes to be giving way to someone “much younger and fitter”, adding: “I will be a pensioner very shortly, so I think I should take on a role more fitting.”

In May 2013, Mr Farmer was awarded the MBE by the Queen for services to the community.

His hard working approach and manner meant he was respected across the political spectrum. Suffolk County councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer, whose Tower ward includes the Abbeygate area, was full of praise for Mr Farmer, despite political differences.

The Green Party member said: “He is a man of honour, humour, integrity and charm. It was a bit of surprise to hear he was stepping down. I have worked with him on a number of issues, most notably the introduction of the 20mph speed zone.

“He will be missed greatly by those he represented.”

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