Councillor moving to USA – but plans to remain a member of Suffolk County Council

Brian Riley celebrating with his daughter Kate and wife Alice on his election to the county council

Brian Riley celebrating with his daughter Kate and wife Alice on his election to the county council in 2013 - Credit: Archant

Hadleigh’s county councillor is preparing to move nearly 4,000 miles to the other side of the Atlantic – but has no plans to give up his seat at Endeavour House.

Conservative Brian Riley was elected to represent Hadleigh on the authority in May 2013 – and was one of only two Tories to take seats off other parties in that election.

However he is now planning to move to Raleigh in North Carolina next month, a total of 3,966 miles from Hadleigh – while retaining his seat on the council.

He said: “I am moving to the USA, but I shall be coming back to the UK every six or seven weeks to keep up with my council work.

“We are in the 21st century with e-mails and Skype and there are plenty of ways of keeping in touch with people in Hadleigh. It isn’t a case of gathering around the parish pump any more.”

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Mr Riley said he did not feel it would be possible to remain a member of a district or parish council while living abroad because they deal with “nitty-gritty” issues.

“But as a county councillor my role is more strategic and I don’t think it will be a problem doing my work from Raleigh.”

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Mr Riley said he would effectively be retiring when he moves to America: “Although I don’t feel I will ever retire completely.” But he will need to return to Suffolk regularly for his business interests as well as his council work.

As a county councillor he will be entitled to keep his allowance of £10,273.74 a year – enough to pay for nearly 11 round trips from Raleigh to London at £958 each.

The next county council elections are not until 2017 – but he would not be able to stand in them because candidates have to live in the county. However he cannot be forced to resign from the council if he attends a meeting at least once every six months.

Mr Riley had the Conservative whip withdrawn from him last night – and is coming under pressure to resign from the council by March 20 to allow a by-election to be called on the same day as the general election.

He has also been summoned to a meeting with county council leader Mark Bee and chief executive Deborah Cadman when he will be told that he has to resign from the authority if he goes ahead with his move to America.

Mr Riley said he knew councillors who regularly took very long holidays and were out of contact with their voters – but he planned to be in regular touch using modern technology.

And he doesn’t plan to stop his political work once he moves across the Atlantic: “I’ll do what I can to get Hillary Clinton elected,” he said.

Opposition Labour leader Sandy Martin was blunt: “I think he should stand down immediately to allow a by-election to be held on the same day as the general election which would save council taxpayers a great deal of money.”

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