Councillor Jason Smith steps down due to ill health

The Lemington ward councillor is to spend more time with family after pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Former Newcastle councillor Jason Smith, who stepped down from representing Lemington ward after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Cllr Jason Smith has resigned from his Lemington seat to spend more time with his family.

He announced at a meeting of the City Council in November he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Since then, he has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the illness which has the lowest survival rate of all cancers.

Earlier this month he took a motion to council calling on the authority to share as much information as possible about the cancer to raise awareness in the hope that people showing symptoms would go to their GP. As the symptoms can be slight it is often too late for people to receive effective treatment before it becomes terminal.

The motion was unanimously passed and since then Mr Smith has made a video about his diagnosis. The council also lit the Civic Centre purple to mark Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day on November 16.

In a separate development Mr Smith has been nominated for the title of Honorary Alderman at a special meeting of full council next Wednesday (Dec 6) – a title bestowed on former councillors in recognition of eminent service to the city.                                                                                       

Mr Smith, who has been active in local politics for 17 years, and was a Newcastle Independent councillor, said: “When I stood for election in 2021, I committed to serving a full term of office and could never have imagined that I might not be well enough to serve the full three years. 

“When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March, my intention was to continue to serve Lemington Ward and keep my promise to serve a full term.

“While it has been a struggle at times, I have been able to continue to deliver for Lemington. However, in the past few weeks, my health has deteriorated as a result I will need further treatment in the weeks ahead that is likely to impact on my ability to undertake my role as councillor.  

“I can no longer balance the needs of my family, fulfilling my role as councillor to the level that Lemington ward deserves and fighting the cancer. 

“I am proud to have brought many motions and questions to council to benefit not only my ward but also the rest of the city.

“It has been a huge honour to serve as councillor for the ward I grew up in and where I have lived for almost all of my life. It is with a very heavy heart and a great deal of sadness that I am resigning as councillor for Lemington ward.”

Council leader, Cllr Nick Kemp, who nominated Cllr Smith for Honorary Alderman, said: “No one could have failed to be moved by the courageous speech Jason gave at the last city council raising awareness of pancreatic cancer.

“I know Jason has been ill for some time but true to his nature he has committed himself to the residents of Lemington throughout.

“Jason has been a kind and dignified political opponent and I respect both his service to the city but also the manner in which he has approached this. 

“He will be a missed in the council chamber, a miss to his constituents but clearly and most importantly to his lovely family.

“It feels fitting to bestow the award of Honorary Alderman on former councillor Jason Smith."

As the resignation falls within six months of the May local elections there will be no by-election. The seat will be contested at the local elections instead.