Wed, 06 Nov 2019
A THATCHAM councillor has resigned from the town council.
Nassar Kessell was elected to the Central ward in May, alongside Liberal Democrat colleagues Owen Jeffery and Jennifer Walker, Ellen Crumly for the Conservatives and Paul Field for the Greens.
But the 22-year-old has now stepped down from the town council owing to personal circumstances.
Mr Kessell said he had taken the decision with a heavy heart.
In a statement he said: “When I sought election last May, I promised to always put the needs of Thatcham residents first and to do the right thing for them.
“However, in addition to balancing work and my commitments on West Berkshire Council, I am also now caring for a family member.
“I cannot therefore commit the time to adequately represent the people of Thatcham in West Berkshire Council and the town council.”
Mr Kessell’s carer role follows personal tragedy earlier this year.
In August, he told the Newbury Weekly News that he had “not been entirely focused” on his council duties after both his brother and ex-boyfriend took their own lives five-and-a-half months apart.
Thatcham Town Council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said: “We’re sorry to lose Nassar from Thatcham Town Council, but fully understand his decision to step down due to a new job.
“In the town council we encourage age diversity, but inevitably that will mean younger people will come and go as their own careers and circumstances change.
“This resignation will lead to a vacancy on the town council and we will continue our aspiration to be open and diverse with members that fully represent the local community.”
Mr Kessell had attended one of eight town council meetings he was expected at since being elected in May.
He will continue to represent Thatcham Central at West Berkshire Council.
He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the town council and the work we do makes a real difference to our communities.
“The Lib Dem plan for Thatcham is ambitious and exciting.
“There will be a by-election now to fill my seat and I’d love to see someone from an under-represented group stand.
“This is a perfect opportunity to get involved with and make a difference to our community.”
Leader of the opposition on West Berkshire Council Lee Dillon (Thatcham North East) said: “It can be hard balancing work and two council positions.
“Nassar will continue to represent Thatcham Central at West Berkshire where he can continue to fight for changes on housing, the environment and ensuring our children get a fair education.”
Mr Kessell’s work as a Liberal Democrat campaign officer had taken him to Scotland to help the party win a by-election.
His attendance record at West Berkshire Council and his work journey made him the target of a satirical Momentum West Berkshire social media post.
The post, which was later removed, featured a mock-up picture of Mr Kessell dressed as Where’s Wally? with the caption ‘Where’s Nassar Kessell?’
Momemtum West Berkshire published a public apology for any distress caused.