Mayor of Ferryhill, Cllr Richard Smith, has resigned from his post of Mayor with immediate effect.
The mayor came under increasing pressure from the Ferryhill and surrounding communities after being accused of posting anti-gay and anti-Islam messages on his personal Facebook page.
Last night (4th July) Cllr Smith released the following statement:
“It is with deep and profound sadness that after considerable deliberation I have decided to relinquish the role of Mayor of Ferryhill Town Council.
“Over recent weeks I have been subjected to unprecedented levels of adverse publicity, publicity that has been orchestrated for political advantage, and has threatened both my Church, family, and colleagues alike. Whilst the instigators are very much in the minority, as evidenced by the widespread messages of support I have received, I realise that my ability to serve the people of Ferryhill in the manner I would have wished will always be subject to disruption and intimidation. The latest incidents being the mob getting my son involved who is an Afghanistan War Veteran who suffers severe PTSD with severe flashbacks. I had to refrain from attending the Flag Raising Event where I was to give a speech for those of our Serving Military Men and Women, this was due to the threats of disruption to that and any event I would have been involved in as Town Mayor. It has got so bad I now have involved the Police.
“To be denied the opportunity to hold personal views was never my expectation when I undertook the role of Town Mayor, and it is a matter of sincere regret to me that those personal views have been so tragically and outrageously twisted and reported on in order to discredit both myself and my faith. I am stepping aside with immediate effect, and trust all local organisations who have been so cruelly influenced by recent publicity are able to once again support all charitable and worthy events organised by the Council in Ferryhill.
“It is my intention to remain as a member of the council, to participate in and promote initiatives brought forward for the benefit of all in our town, as was always my intention.
“May I thank the many people who have expressed support for me, especially the 5,540 people who signed my petition and the 56% who voted me to stay as Mayor from the Northern Echo pole. I trust that my resignation now puts an end to the vendetta being waged against me, my family, Church, and colleagues.
“My Faith in Christ is what drives me to help people regardless of their faith, colour, culture, sexuality, or political persuasion. I have never let the convictions of my Faith dictate who receives my help or the help from the Church it has always been the Love of God that is found in Christ Jesus, a love that is full of Mercy and Grace. People who really know me and Lauraine and the Church can truly comment on how hard we have lovingly worked to help and provide for those in need, this has now been decimated by the minority mob along with those wishing to score political points and who have a God-phobia.
“I will close with these words from the Apostle Peter from the Book of Acts Chapter 5: 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
“I guess nothing much has changed. I get called a bigot and intolerant”?
Pastor and Ferryhill Town Councillor.