I WOULD like to reply to the letter from Peter Wilkinson (HAS, Mar 15) about me being the Sedgefield MP and a member of Darlington borough and Durham county councils.

I have made it clear on numerous occasions that I will stand down, and that is what I will do. I have said it in this paper, I have said it in the council chamber and I have said it on social media. I am not sure what point is being made here, so let me explain once again my actions to date, and those that I have planned.

I was elected as the Conservative MP for Sedgefield in December 2019 and rather than waste council funds on a spring by-election, I planned to stand down in time for my seats to be contested in the local elections already scheduled for May 2020. As we all know, the coronavirus stopped those elections and they will now be resumed in May 2021.

As a by-election could not be called during the pandemic, I chose to continue as a councillor to maintain representation for the people who elected me, but I have declined all councillor allowances since April 2020.

I have continued to represent the members of the electorate who have contacted me in terms of everything from trees and waste collection to cemetery gates and footpaths, as well as attending council meetings. I will continue to provide representation before standing down to allow a by-election in May 2021 along with the scheduled Tees Valley mayoral and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, thus providing the maximum possible representation.

I could ask whether Mr Wilkinson would have preferred me to do what the Labour councillor did in Red Hall in Darlington? He stood down last year, abandoning the people of Red Hall without a councillor as elections could not be called. In a virtual world, he could easily have done what I have, and supported the people who elected him until an election can be called.

Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield.