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Setting the record straight on Portishead Town Council vacancies.

News - 12 May 2022

Setting the record straight on Portishead Town Council vacancies.

It is with great regret that Portishead Town Council has had to accept the resignations of Councillors Tina Mason and Polly Shepperdson, over a farcical technicality. Despite suffering significant personal and family illness in recent times which prevented them from physically attending meetings in person, they have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic carrying out their duties as councillors to help residents and have regularly attended council meetings online. Even with these facts, we have received legal advice that they must resign because of a clause in the Local Government Act 1972 (a year where most people did not even have a phone) which states that failure to attend any meeting over a 6-month period means that they can no longer be Councillors. Bizarrely in the year 2022, the English Law ruling is that attending meetings online where all councillors can be seen, heard and hear others is not counted as “attendance”, it has to be physically in person, whereas in Wales and Scotland the Law has been updated to treat online attendance in the same way as being there physically.

This situation has happened in other local councils which, while acknowledging the same mishap have just continued without skipping a beat. Unfortunately, in Portishead, a campaign orchestrated by a few, mostly ex-councillors, has forced the resignation of our dedicated councillors because of potential personal liabilities for them.

To fill the vacancies, there will either be by-elections, if requested by residents, or a simple interview process known as “co-option.” By-elections cost many thousands of pounds for vacancies which will be filled for less than a year as there is a full local election due soon in May 2023, whereas co-option carries zero costs. If any community minded residents would be interested learning more about the unpaid voluntary role as a Councillor, please do get in touch.

Paddy Sterndale and Paul Gardner (Chair and Vice Chair of Portishead Town Council)

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