AN ISLE of Wight Councillor, criticised for not spending enough time on the Island, has now resigned — and moved to Manchester.

Labour member for Whippingham and Osborne, Julia Baker-Smith, handed in her resignation to the council’s monitoring officer this morning.

The former-councillor, dubbed ‘Just Back from Salford’ in political circles, attracted criticism last August for splitting her time between the Island and Manchester, where her partner lives.

At the time, Ms Baker-Smith said she did not need to justify her whereabouts.

Ms Baker-Smith has now said she can no longer give East Cowes residents her 100 per cent focus, after she was offered a job in Manchester as an NHS domestic abuse liaison officer.

She said: “I have now been offered a full-time position working on a new pilot project that seeks to improve the journey of survivors of domestic violence and abuse, an area many people will know I am extremely passionate about.

“I will therefore need to focus my energies on this new role, making the previous level of travel I have been doing unsustainable.

“I would like to thank the residents of East Cowes and Whippingham for choosing me to represent them since 2013 and wish my successor the very best in looking after the area I will always call home.”

Ms Baker-Smith said she had discussed the decision at length with the local Labour party.

Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said: “Julia has been an excellent councillor for the residents of Whippingham and Osborne, and her achievements speak for themselves.

“With a new full-time job in Manchester, she didn’t feel able to devote the time and energy to her ward here on the island, and it’s a testimony to her sense of responsibility that she has put those residents’ interests first.”

Updated 3.15pm

East Cowes councillor Karl Love said: "I wish Cllr Baker-Smith well in her decision to step down.

"However, it does sadden me that she did not see fit to do this long ago. Sadly having changed political colours, and being significantly absent in her own ward for many months, it muddies the water of her previous achievements and reflects less favourably on her representation and that of the Labour Party. Jumping ship to Labour has not created an inspirational relationship between local people and Labour. 

"Looking to the future, this ward deserves a fresh committed individual to represent it, having high levels of social need and it being in the middle of significant, testing and unfinished  redevelopment projects, there is an urgency for a committed individual with strong political representations skills to be a champion for the people of the word."

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