A FORMER district and county councillor has thanked her community for its support following her decision to step down after 20 years of public service.

Councillor Linda Vijeh announced on November 15 that she would step down from her roles as the Conservative county councillor for Ilminster and ward member for Neroche from the start of 2022.

She said the main reason for her decision was so she could "allow myself the luxury of pursuing other personal interests".

When she stepped down, she added: "This will also allow me, as a member of the public, the opportunity to express my views on the issues of the day more openly, without the constraints of formal office."

In her last county councillor report, Cllr Vijeh thanked people in her community for their response to her decision to step down.

In her report, published at the end of December, she said: "My grateful thanks go to all of those who have been kind enough to contact me with words of thanks and encouragement, in addition to lots of lovely presents!

"In part due to Covid, I know that it has not been possible to get around to everyone to express my gratitude, so if you are free on Sunday, January 9, please do join me at Donyatt Village Hall for their monthly breakfast to raise funds for Gemini Carnival Club.

"I shall be there from 9am – 12pm. Your password for free grub is 'Lovely Linda!'."

Read more: District and county councillor steps down after 20 years to 'pursue personal interests' 

Throughout her time in office, Cllr Vijeh was proud of her "reputation for getting things done, adopting a practical approach to seeking solutions by consensus".

Cllr Vijeh is one of two local councillors who have announced they will not be standing in the first elections for the new Somerset Council, which are expected to take place on Thursday, May 5.

Amanda Broom, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Chard North, will also not stand for election to Somerset’s new unitary authority.

The elections will see 110 councillors elected to 55 divisions using the existing Somerset County Council boundaries.

In her last report, Cllr Vijeh outlined the extension of the vaccination programme; explained how the first elections to the new Somerset Council will work, and provided an update on Chard Museum's plans for 2022 after the museum was awarded £4,819 from the Cash for Charities campaign.

Cllr Vijeh’s last report also outlined how local people can apply for a free tree from the Woodland Trust as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy to mark the Platinum Jubilee or apply for free wildflower seeds throughout the winter from South Somerset District Council.

While Cllr Vijeh was in office, the Chard and Ilminster News reported on her joining a 1.2 million-strong protest march in India; fundraising to send a cow to an orphanage in Kenya to help them produce milk, ensuring free first-aid training was offered in South Somerset, and handing out Christmas gifts to her community.