Search

Why this council was forced to invoke rarely-used powers

PUBLISHED: 14:58 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:58 30 September 2020

East Suffolk Council has given dispensation for Knodishall and Sutton parish councils to continue operating after not being able to meet during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

East Suffolk Council has given dispensation for Knodishall and Sutton parish councils to continue operating after not being able to meet during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

East Suffolk Council

Rarely-used powers have been used by two parish councils in East Suffolk after they were unable to meet because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said there was a need to re-appoint members in order for those parish councils to carry out business. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCILEast Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said there was a need to re-appoint members in order for those parish councils to carry out business. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The government passed emergency legislation during the coronavirus lockdown to enable councils to meet remotely, but two East Suffolk parish councils – Knodishall and Sutton have been unable to meet either in person or remotely in that time.

According to a report presented to East Suffolk Council last week, Knodishall last met on February 18 with the authority unable to convene meetings because a number of its members were not internet or email users.

MORE: Government passes legislation to enable remote council meetings during lockdown

Sutton Parish Council meanwhile last met on January 15. The report said poor broadband connections and some members not having the necessary IT meant they could not meet.

Laws under the Local Government Act mean councillors who do not attend a meeting for six months must vacate their role and following this rule councillors in Knodishall left office on August 18, while members in Sutton vacated office on July 15.

Last week, East Suffolk Council agreed to temporarily appoint those councillors back into their roles in order to keep the councils going, until an election can be held, under Local Government Act rules.

You may also want to watch:

That legislation dictates that where there are so many vacancies that a parish council cannot reasonably operate, the district council can appoint people until an election can be held.

Currently, that is expected to be in May 2021.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said: “Where there are so many vacancies in the office of parish or community councillor that the parish or community council are unable to act then under Section 91 of the Local Government Act of 1972 the district council may, by order, appoint persons to fulfil all or any of the vacancies until other councillors are elected and take up office.

“There is a need for this council to make temporary appointments under Section 91 of the Local Government Act 1972, so Knodishall Parish Council and Sutton Parish Council are quorate and can transact business.”

The council also approved delegation to the leader and chief executive to make further appointments to any other parish councils with the same problem.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times