Long-serving councillor to step down after 45 years of service
- Credit: Archant
A long-serving councillor who was one of the founder members of Babergh District Council is to retire after 45 years’ service.
Richard Kemp will not stand in the May elections for Long Melford and Alpheton, and will also step down from the parish councils of both villages.
Mr Kemp, an independent councillor, who lives in Long Melford, was elected at the age of 30 and helped to establish Babergh.
The former magistrate, who will continue as a county councillor for the Melford division until 2021, said his “time has arrived” to step down.
“Magistrates retire at 70, judges must have some extra genes and retire at 73, so as a local authority member my time has arrived,” he said.
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“I was proud to be elected as a ‘Melfordian’ councillor to the district council at the first attempt, and proud to represent the people I had grown up with in the two villages.”
The 75-year-old, who spent 34 years as a magistrate, said he believed the financial payments offered to councillors today had overtaken the “real altrustic reasons” evident in local government in his early days.
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“It’s easy to dwell on nostalgia I suppose,” he said. “But there was no financial support from Babergh in the early days, you had mileage allowance and a meal allowance and no cabinet member payments.
“I think money for members these days has overtaken the real altruistic reasons that were so evident in the early days.”
He also pointed to a “lack of proper financial support” from national government and the impact on local authorities.
“All governments have used local government as a means of diversion constantly finding reasons to impose more and more sanctions. The reality is that local government is much more efficient in spending than any national government.”
Mr Kemp, who will continue his involvement in Long Melford’s football and cricket clubs, said serving the people is what he will miss the most after he stands down.
“I will honestly miss talking to people and supporting them,” he said. “You might win only one in 10 cases but when you do, and you get a letter saying ‘thank you Mr Kemp’, it makes it all worthwhile.
“I owe a huge debt to Blanche my wife, and over the years to Rebecca, Nicholas and Adam our children who were very supportive in helping us and our business ventures.
“I will still continue for my remaining two years as the Suffolk county councillor for the Melford division, and I place on record my thanks for all the support over the years from the people of Long Melford and Alpheton.”