An independent politician who is known for his campaign against a major factory in his town has resigned from government.

Jeff Thomson, of the Fresh Air for Penrith campaign and now of the Castletown Community Action Group, has announced his resignation from Penrith Town Council.

Mr Thomson is known primarily for his environmental campaigning, chiefly against the Omega Proteins factory in Penrith and the so-called ‘Penrith Pong’ alleged to come from the factory.

In what he described as an open letter to the residents of the ward he represented – Penrith West – he said: “I’d like to explain to the people of West ward who voted for me in the May 2023 Penrith Town Council elections, why I am standing down as their democratically-elected town councillor.

“I have been unable to progress the mandate I was elected on through the town council.

“All public authorities including councils must work harder within their local communities – speaking, talking, communicating, listening to, and representing residents' opinions, views and wishes.

“I feel working with the newly-formed Castletown Community Action Group will be a better way to achieve the cleaner, safer, healthier, more environmentally friendly, local community we the residents want and deserve.

“Plus, my personal ambition [is] for a community governance review for Castletown, to give the area back its identity and the opportunity of parish council status, along similar lines to Clifton Community Council, southeast of the town.

“Please, no one doubt my commitment to the local area and improved environment, campaigning for safer roads and less industrial pollution including odour.

“But sadly the town council is not the best vehicle to achieve these democratic, environmental objectives.”

Speaking to the News & Star, he later added that there is no by-election forthcoming, to his knowledge, and that the rules are if there are ten signatures from the ward wanting an election, one will be held, but someone could be placed there by the council if not.

When asked if this would affect his political power, he said: “There are political parties on the town council, so some of them do try to make it party-political, but I don’t believe that parish councillors should be party-political.

“I had no influence on the town council anyway."