Former council leader resigns over ill health

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A former leader of Richmondshire District Council has announced her resignation as an elected member in North Yorkshire with immediate effect, for health reasons.

Councillor Melva Steckles was elected to the rural North Yorkshire local authority in 2007, becoming leader later that year.

Coun Steckles courted controversy while leader, reporting the current council leader Coun John Blackie to the police for behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at a civic function at the officers’ mess at Vimy Barracks, Catterick Garrison.

Coun Blackie was acquitted of the charge following a two-day trial at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court in November 2009 and costs were awarded in his favour.

While leader, she was also chairman of the strategy board.

More recently, she has acted as spokesperson on prosperous communities, which includes economic development, tourism, regeneration and life long learning.

She announced her resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday as both a Richmondshire District councillor and a North Yorkshire county councillor.

“I have always felt very proud to have been elected by local people to represent them as a councillor on both the district and county council,” she said.

“Sadly I need to take time away from my council commitments to deal with some new treatment which means I am no longer able to give the time and energy needed.

“I am honoured to have been able to carry out this important job on behalf of local people and hope to continue my voluntary work in my retirement from public office.

“I would like to thank my colleagues from both councils, friends and family for their support.”

By-elections are to be called on May 3 for the Hornby Castle Ward of Richmondshire District Council and Central Richmondshire Division of North Yorkshire County Council.

Polling Stations are expected to be in Colburn, Hipswell, Richmond Station, Hunton, Tunstall and Scotton.