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Absent Councillors referred to Secretary of State

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The case of the two Councillors in Swale who moved to Lincolnshire but who refuse to resign their seats is to be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

Alan and Jean Willicombe left their Woodstock ward in the autumn but have refused to resign, claiming they can still effectively represent their residents from 150 miles away in Lincolnshire. 

The last meeting of the Swale Borough Council meeting on 22nd February agreed to refer the matter to the General Purposes Committee which met last night on 3rd February.

The issue was raised by Labour Leader, Mike Haywood, on the grounds that whilst there is a residential qualification to stand, there is no residential requirement to serve the term of office locally.

At the General Purposes Committee, Cllr Haywood said

"It can't be right to qualify for election by living locally but conceivably to move away the day after the election count. This is not specifically about the Willicombes but about an anomaly which is wrong in principle"

The panel chaired by Council Leader, Andrew Bowles and which includes many fellow Tory Councillors agreed unanimously to refer this concern to the Secretary of State. 


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