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I’m stepping down from politics, says Rodney the reformer

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One of St Helena’s leading politicians has announced that he will not fight to keep his seat as a councillor in the next election, due to take place before the end of July 2013. 

Rodney Buckley suffered a disappointment when he failed to persuade people to vote in favour of having a chief councillor – but that did not appear to be the reason for stepping down.

He delivered his news after Governor Mark Capes dissolved the island’s legislative council in readiness for the election, several weeks earlier than expected.

The law required an election to take place by the end of November 2013, but Mr Capes said waiting until then would mean new councillors could not adequately prepare for budget making and the annual visit of UK aid advisers.

He also said the last legislative council was dominated by older men, and he hoped to see more women and younger people standing for election. There were only two female councillors at the start of April 2013.

Rodney Buckley has overseen major improvements in teaching standards during his time as education chairman, as well as having to cope with a crisis when the island was left without enough maths teachers in the run-up to GCSE exams.

He spoke candidly about the sub-standard conditions of buildings in the island’s three primary schools, which were the subject of a public review.

He campaigned without success in early 2013 for the island to have a chief councillor. Legislative councillors voted to put the idea to a public referendum because of doubts expressed at public meetings.

In the end, he was unable to overcome a lack of public understanding about the idea, though two other changes to the St Helena constitution were approved by LegCo.

Only a chief councillor, he said later, would be able to do “great things” as a councillor.

In an interview with Saint FM Community Radio, he said: “I have decided with my family before Christmas that I would not stand for re-election and with my family we are going to take a new direction.”

“What I have learnt is that to govern an island you most certainly need to work in partnership. You cannot go to war with the government. You have to use strategy. 

“No words written on a piece of paper will run a system. No matter how good it sounds on paper, there will always be grey areas. The crux of the matter is, you have to work in partnership with what you have got.

“What we have got is a small island, a small bunch of people, and very complex issues.

“What I have learnt is the value of life is working together.”

Public gets a vote as chief councillor plan is put on hold
Vote on future of schools is treated with caution
Transparency campaign prompts fear of island tensions

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