Shock as mayor quits office mid-term for family reasons

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The leader of Hailsham Town Council has quit his post midway through his second term as mayor.

Jeff Bentley-Astor cited personal and family reasons for his shock announcement to resign after a decade working on the council – including two years as mayor.

The 47-year-old said the “terribly hard” decision was made recently.

He officially handed back the chains of office of Monday, October 15.

The town will now be without a mayor untill November 11 when council members will vote on Mr Bentley-Astor’s replacement.

The father of two is set to spend more time with his wife Debbie and daughters Charlie, 14, and Chelsie, 11.

He said: “It was a terribly hard decision to leave the council, but I’ve made the right decision for my family.

“I’m very sad to go, I’ve enjoyed my time on the council. It’s a decision that’s happened quite recently. I had to make the decision with respect to my family life and have had to reluctantly step down from the council.

“I joined it because I believe people have no right to complain unless they do something about it, so I stepped up to do things in the community and be part of it.”

He added: “Thank you to all the people who have voted for me and supported the town council, also my fellow councillors and staff. I wish them all the best in the future.”

The skip company employee and owner of Sussex Dark Side business said he would not rule out a return to the council in the future.

He said: “I’d possibly go back in the future, I’m not ruling it out. Maybe a few years down the line.”

He said he would like to be remembered as setting up the Hailsham in Bloom committee and will continue to serve on it.

Mr Bentley-Astor was elected onto the Town Council in 2003, representing Hailsham outh and West Ward.

He has served on a number of committees, including his prized Hailsham In Bloom Committee, which he chaired from its launch in 2007 until he was elected Town Mayor and Chairman in May 2011.

The departure leaves the council two members short - both of which are in the South and West Ward - following Anthony Williams resignation earlier this year.

Today (Friday) marks the cut of point for nomination papers to be delivered to the returning officer of the district council to replace Mr Williams. If no election is contested a poll will be held on November 15.

In a weeks time a request for an election, signed by 10 people, has to be completed otherwise Mr Bentley-Astor’s seat will be co-opted. If an election is called it must be held before January 11, 2013.