FENLAND: District councillor loses seat on town council for missing 9 meetings in 8 months
By JOHN ELWORTHY A FENLAND councillor has lost his seat on his town council after missing NINE meetings between last November and June this year. But Councillor Simon King, who is also a Cambridgeshire county councillor, is not going quietly, believing h
By JOHN ELWORTHY
A FENLAND councillor has lost his seat on his town council after missing NINE meetings between last November and June this year.
But Councillor Simon King, who is also a Cambridgeshire county councillor, is not going quietly, believing his attendance at a town assembly should have been enough to retain his seat.
"I thought at the time, and still do, that the town assembly was an official meeting," Cllr King said today.
But Erbie Murat, the clerk of Wisbech Town Council, is adamant the town assembly didn't constitute an official meeting.
Returning officer Tim Pilsbury, chief executive of Fenland District Council.
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has now posted a "notice of vacancy" which could lead to a by election in the Hill Ward in Wisbech which was represented by Cllr King.
Mr Murat claims the town assembly does not constitute a meeting of the town council and so therefore Cllr King must be disqualified for his record of non attendance.
He says the town council did not "approve the reason(s) for his persistent absence" and as such a casual vacancy now exists
"I can confirm that the last meeting of Wisbech Town Council that Mr King attended was finance and general purposes committee on November 4, 2008," Mr Murat said in an email to the chief executive.
Cllr King is in touch with Conservative Party officials to decide his next action but says he has the support of the Local Government Association which, he says, believes town assemblies are part of a councillor's duty.
Cllr King said he was disappointed no one alerted him to the possibility of losing his seat.
"The assembly is an opportunity to question and put motions to town councillors," he said. "The format of the meeting is that it appears on the same calendar of meetings as all other town council meetings, and is not distinguished in any way. There is also a signing in book which only councillors sign. Councillors sit in their usual place with name plates in front of them.
"I thought at the time and still do it was an official meeting."
Tory Party officials believe, privately, that Cllr King should be allowed to stay, although one councillor told me today that "if he's missed so many meetings, I can't see why he's that bothered