Southend councillor resigns

A Southend councillor who hoped to replace MP Sir David Amess is resigning from his role to take up a new diplomatic post.

Alex Bright, Conservative councillor for Southchurch ward, threw his hat into the ring as a candidate for the Southend West by-election, but failed to make it to the final shortlist of candidates.

Cllr Bright, who has served as a councillor for almost six years, announced he will take up a “diplomatic post precluding him from public office” and will be resigning imminently.

He said: “This very difficult decision comes as I have accepted a new role that obligates me to be politically neutral.

“Although I am pleased to be taking on this new and rewarding challenge – serving communities both at home and abroad – this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, despite having the full support of my Conservative colleagues.”

Cllr Bright currently serves as the shadow cabinet member for environment and planning.

He has also previously worked for Government ministers in Parliament.

Cllr Bright added: “It has been an immense honour and a true privilege to represent the residents of Southchurch Ward on the council, here in my hometown of Southend.

“I have been, and remain, extremely proud to represent the ward in which my family lives and where I attended two of our many excellent schools.

“I will greatly miss representing the residents of Southchurch Ward.”

Tony Cox, leader of the council’s Conservative group, praised Mr Bright.

He said: “Alex has been an excellent councillor and an effective champion for the residents of Southchurch Ward, providing them with a strong voice in council for nearly six years.

“The Conservative group and I will be very sorry to see him go, but we wish him the very best of luck in his future endeavours.”

Former Kent councillor Anna Firth was selected by members of the Southend West Conservative Association from three shortlisted candidates.

Labour and Lib Dem candidates have pledged not to contest the seat out of respect for Sir David who died following a knife attack at his constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh on October 15.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter