Walberswick: Interim trio could be appointed to run council after wholesale walkout

EMERGENCY appointments could be made to a troubled parish council left with too few members to properly operate.

District councillors will be asked to order the temporary appointment of members to Walberswick Parish Council after everyone quit at the beginning of October.

Among those to resign was chairman David Webb, who has now become the council’s sole member, following his return as the only candidate to come forward for a seat left vacant earlier in the year.

Suffolk Coastal councillors will now be asked to temporarily appoint three members to enable a parish council to perform its functions. It is hoped the move, which would be made under the Local Government Act, could go some way to resolving a long-running saga in the village, culminating in the resignation of councillors at the October parish meeting.

Mr Webb told the EADT he had quit over the nature of communications and volume of requests for information from a small group of villagers, made mainly under the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act. But some residents claimed information had been held back, that questions had gone unanswered and that councillors had acted improperly.

The district council concluded last December that the parish council had been “rather lax or careless” in relation to the proper declaration and recording of interests at meetings.

Mr Webb has now returned to the council after being the only candidate to come forward and fill a seat left vacant by the death of his brother, Keith, earlier this year.

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The former chairman said he put his name forward “just in case no one else did”. He added: “Those who have been complaining have had ample opportunity over the last couple of years to put their names forward and never have.”

An extraordinary meeting at Suffolk Coastal has now been called next Tuesday, when members will be asked to temporarily appoint councillors in Walberswick until further elections can be held or new members are co-opted.

District councillor for Walberswick, Michael Gower, has indicated he is willing to be appointed on a temporary basis, as has councillor Stephen Burroughes and former district councillor Peter Austin, who lives in Walberswick.

A district council spokesman said: “This is an unusual but not unprecedented step. We have previously used these powers some years ago in Middleton and there are currently two others in Suffolk, Bentley and Icklingham, where such actions have been taken.

“This is a stop gap measure so that the parish council can continue its important work and find its own local solutions to its lack of councillors.”