Taxation Without (Some) Representation Part 1

Cllr Gail Hodson has served Ashurst diligently since 03/05/2012 and would either seek re-election or retire on 09/05/2021. She has been absent from council since 16 October 2019. She apologised for 6 of 8 absences,

Ashurst is deemed to need 3 WLBC elected members. Unknown to the West Lancashire council tax payers, WLBC was considering

A “That Councillor Gail Hodson’s non-attendance at Council meetings since 16 October 2019 be approved for the purposes of Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972.

B Date of Decision: 16 April 2020 Executive Decision or ‘Other Decision’ to be published? Yes section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, if a member of a local authority fails to attend any meeting of a local authority for a six month consecutive period, his (or her) office becomes vacant, unless that non-attendance is dispensed with prior to expiry of the six month period. 1.2 In accordance with the Council’s procedures, the Council’s Democratic Services Manager, Mrs Jacky Denning, e-mailed Councillor Hodson on 26 February 2020. No reply was received and no subsequent attendance was recorded. A further reminder was sent to Councillor Hodson and the Council Leader advised. A (Full) Council meeting, (where all council members are summoned to attend) was due to be held on 1 April 2020. However, due to the outbreak of coronavirus the meeting was cancelled.

On 15 April 2020 Councillor Hodson advised Mrs Denning that she intended to attend the Council meeting on 1 April 2020 but, due to its cancellation, had been unable to. She also advised that, for personal reasons, she was unable to attend the other Council meetings in respect of which she was due to attend and had instead sent her apologies and arranged for a substitute member to attend. She wishes to remain as a Councillor and wishes consideration to be given to her stated reasons for her recent non-attendance at Council meetings.

Financial And Resource Implications 4.1 There are no financial and resource implications that are material to this decision. 

Decision

“I note that Councillor Hodson advises that, for personal reasons, she was unable to attend Council meetings prior to that meeting but note, with some caution, that no further explanation is given. However, on balance, I consider Councillor Hodson’s non-attendance at Council meetings since 16 October 2019 should be approved for the purposes of Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 for the reasons set out above. 2.8 The wording of Section 85(1) is such that is not possible, in granting approval for absence, to caveat that approval on the basis that Councillor Hodson attends a particular meeting or is given a “trial period” of less than 6 months. However, if Councillor Hodson were to not attend a Council meeting (which would include any remote meetings organised by the Council) for a further period of 6 months then she would cease to be a member (unless that absence were approved by the Council).
DATE OF DECISION: ……16 April 2020…Decision Taker: Chief Operating Officer, Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey

In upcoming parts of this story we will reveal that WLBC took advice from a Barrister in order to reach this decision, we await the costs of that advice from WLBC.

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