Curtis explains reasons for stepping down as county councillor and reflects on his achievements
PUBLISHED: 10:58 24 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:28 24 March 2015
Former leader Martin Curtis says he is stepping down as a county councillor with immediate effect because he no longer feels he can commit the time required to the role.
Cllr Curtis has been involved in local politics for 16 years. He has represented Whittlesey North on Cambridgeshire County Council for 10 years.
He was council leader from May 2013 to March 2014 but quit due to the council adopting a committee system.
During an interview on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Cllr Curtis said he has “thoroughly enjoyed” his time as a county councillor and intends to stay on as a town councillor.
He said: “Since I stood down as leader I’ve been working and spending a lot of time in London.
“I’m really struggling to get the time off to attend all the meetings and committees so I would rather stand down and let somebody else do it who can find the time to do it.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a county councillor and will miss it. I’ll still be involved in a few local things and hopefully will stay on as a town councillor.”
The amount of time required to be a councillor means it is very difficult to balance the role with full-time work, Cllr Curtis said.
He said: “People don’t realise exactly how much time it takes up. To fulfil the role, you either have to be retired and have control of your income or make sacrifices like I did for a number of years.
“I recognise you can’t just throw money at councillors allowances but something needs to be done. There should be less councillors but they should be more professional.
“If people really want the right people and a good spread of councillors something needs to be done because in my view the current system does not work.”
Cllr Curtis says he “absolutely loved” his stint as council leader, but felt it would be wrong to plough on in a system he didn’t believe in.
He said: “I think we got a lot done. There was the City Deal, the A14 funding agreement and the emphasis placed on the Wisbech raillink.
“I could have stayed on but I didn’t believe in the (committee system) structure and felt staying on would have let people down.”
Another source of pride for Cllr Curtis is the “principled” stance he took on Supermarket Gate in Whittlesey two and a half years ago.
He said: “I was under a lot of pressure to cave in and take a less robust stance but I chose to take the principled stand for the good of the community.”
Cllr Curtis has created a “one nation warrior” blog, which he says lays out how the Conservatives can broaden their appeal with the electorate.
He said: “The Conservatives need to get back to its one nation roots to reinvent itself.
“People see us as out of touch when we are not. They think of us as the party of business when we are absolutely not that. We need to change the way we work to reflect that.
“A lot of working class people have conservative values but can’t relate to the Conservatives. We need to change that.”