LEADING Independent councillor Phil Edwards will be standing down at the next local elections after 27 years serving the community.

Councillor Edwards, who represents the Newton Farm ward on Herefordshire Council, has served on the cabinet and most recently as its vice-chairman.

He said local needs were being ignored when he first moved to Belmont in the 1990s.

The city councillor said he wished to thank the Belmont Residents Association, and local parish councils for all the support he received to remedy this situation and make South Wye a more pleasant area.

“Developers were rampantly building houses but ignoring communities as there was an obvious lack of indoor and outdoor safe recreational places for people to enjoy,” he said.

“People now can enjoy using community centres, taking semi-rural walks over restored former landfill sites at Abbey View Parks and Jubilee Fields plus all the healthy activities to be enjoyed in Belmont Haywood Country Park.

“An all important safe boardwalk around Belmont Pools is currently under construction and, when finished, will provide access for all around the park, regardless of ability or disability.”

The former Hereford city mayor says championing these community projects has been one of the most challenging but rewarding aspects of his role as councillor.

Coun Edwards says he is pleased that they have improved the environment and will hopefully improve the health and wellbeing of residents in the long run.

After the elections on May 2, he hopes fellow Independent Bernard Hunt will pick up the baton and represent Newton Farm.

Despite standing down, coun Edwards aims to continue with his Newton Farm voluntary litter picking activities, and help to maintain Belmont Haywood Country Park.