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Bridgend Politics South Wales

Bridgend county councillor steps down due to ill health and harassment

Cllr Ellie Richards of Bridgend (Pic: Ellie Richards)

A BRIDGEND County Borough Councillor has stepped down, after what she described as issues with health and “targeted harassment”.

Ellie Richards was elected as councillor for the Aberkenfig ward as a representative of Plaid Cymru in 2022, at the age of just 23. 

She ran alongside her grandfather and long-time councillor Malcolm James, of Llangynwyd, with both hoping to offer a fresh take on politics that combined a mixture of experience and new ideas.

However, Ellie has said she will leave her role after less than two years, posting a statement that said a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, as well as mental health problems had prompted her decision. She also referenced issues with “targeted harassment”. 

She said: “It is with regret that I have decided to resign as a county borough councillor for Aberkenfig ward effective immediately. In 2022 I was proud and honoured to be elected to represent my area on Bridgend County Borough Council.

“I grew up in Aberkenfig and have lived here all my life. Not long after my election, I received, and still receive, targeted harassment. 

“As many council colleagues and residents know, I have been struggling with both my mental health and physical health over the past year.

“I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and have been undergoing various treatment plans to improve my quality of life. 

“I have dedicated myself to serving our community and upholding the values and duties of public office.

“However, over the past several months, I have been grappling with significant challenges related to my mental and physical health as a result of the harassment I have received.

“Despite my best efforts to balance my responsibilities, the toll on my well-being has become increasingly apparent. 

“In the interest of maintaining the high standards of service and dedication expected of an elected representative, I believe it is in the best interest of both myself and the residents of Aberkenfig and Coytrahen that I step down from my role as a county borough councillor.”

She added: “I want to be transparent about the reasons behind this decision and acknowledge that my mental health is not only detrimental to my physical health, but it crucially impacts my ability to contribute effectively in any role.

“The public nature of this role makes it difficult for many people and in my case it has hampered my ability to maintain good mental wellbeing.

“I am grateful for the support and opportunities that this position has provided me, and I am proud and honoured that my community chose to put their trust in me back in 2022.

“It is not easy for me to step away, but I believe that prioritising my mental health is necessary for my overall well-being and will ultimately allow for the people of Aberkenfig and Coytrahen to elect a new councillor who can continue to serve them in the same way that wanted to. 

“Elected office is a privilege. A privilege I will always be grateful to have had.”