COUNCILLOR Noel Penstone has resigned today (Monday) due to ill health.

The Liberal Democrat was elected to Hale End and Highams Park ward in May 2006.

He served on the planning committee, finance overview and scrutiny sub-committee, and the children and young people's overview and scrutiny sub-committee.

His resignation comes two weeks after the death of fellow ward councillor John Beanse.

Cllr Penstone said: "On behalf of myself and my ward colleague, Cllr Sheila Smith Pryor, I would like to thank residents who have taken the time to offer messages of sympathy with regards to the recent death of our friend and colleague Cllr Beanse.

"I myself have been seriously ill recently, and a few months ago I underwent an operation which, it was hoped, would restore me to full health.

"Unfortunately it is now clear that my recovery will be delayed, and I will be unable to carry out my duties as a councillor for quite some time.

"This delay, alongside the sad death of Cllr Beanse, would place a very heavy burden on Cllr Smith Pryor, who is also currently the Mayor.

"Therefore I have decided to resign my council seat immediately in order for a successor to be found. It is with enormous personal regret that I have had to make this decision, but I want to ensure residents can have a first-class team of councillors who will be able to work hard for everyone in Hale End and Highams Park."

Cllr John Macklin, the council's Liberal Democrat group leader, added: "It is a fitting measure of Noel's commitment to his residents that he has made this difficult but selfless decision to ensure that the people on the ward are fully represented on the council in the way I believe they should be.

"Noel is a true champion who has worked tirelessly for residents both in his ward and in the Town Hall.I would like to thank him on behalf of residents for his enormous and valued contribution."