Portishead residents call for no-show councillors to resign

Folk Hall - home to Portishead Town Council

Cllrs Caroline Goddard, Polly Shepperdson and Tina Mason have been asked to step down. - Credit: Archant

Portishead residents claim three of their town councillors should be removed from their positions immediately after failing to attend meetings in person for more than six months. 

Last year, the High Court ruled that local authority meetings should no longer be held remotely from May 7.

And section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 states: "...if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, they shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority."

Caroline Goddard and Tina Mason.

Caroline Goddard and Tina Mason. - Credit: Portishead Independents

Councillors Caroline Goddard, Polly Shepperdson and Tina Mason have attended meetings in the last six months via videocall though residents believe the three have undertaken 'a huge disservice' to Portishead.

Portishead Town Council is yet to announce three casual vacancies and has deferred the matter when broached by residents.

Former councillor, Lesley Cottrell believes the right thing to do is for them to step down and run in a by-election, as was the case when a similar incident took place in 2014.

She said: "'Portishead Town Council councillors have evidently made a mistake so I think they should just put their hands up to it and ask for an election so their three councillors can stand again thus putting the council back on a legitimate footing."

Cllr Lesley Cottrell was re-elected at the meeting on May 17. Picture: Portishead Town Council

Former councillor, Lesley Cottrell. - Credit: Portishead Town Council

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Meanwhile, other residents hope the town council does not grant exemptions for the no-shows.

Paul Maltby said: "In 2014, when a member of the previous administration failed to attend any meetings for a six month period, I contacted the Clerk and the matter was dealt with promptly.

"The very least that the residents of Portishead expect is that their elected council abide by the law.

“It is not difficult to keep within the Local Government Act 1972 – All any councillor has to do is ask for a dispensation or attend one single council meeting in any six month period, it appears that these three councillors could not be bothered to do either."

Portishead Town Council told the Times: "The town council has no comment to make regarding this matter as we are awaiting legal advice regarding the concerns which have been raised.

"The town council and its councillors continue to remain focused on the interests of the residents of Portishead."