'You're ignoring the law', Clenchwarton parish council warned in resignation row
A West Norfolk parish council has been accused of ignoring the law, by one of its own members, in an ongoing row over the alleged resignation of one of his colleagues.
Two recent meetings of Clenchwarton parish council bodies have been disrupted by conflicting views over the status of Dick Moate on the authority.
And the row flared up again during the council’s latest meeting on Thursday night when Mr Moate answered a question relating to the continuing community pavilion project.
Former council chairman Steve Bearshaw questioned whether Mr Moate was speaking as a councillor, having raised concerns about his status at previous meetings.
It is alleged that Mr Moate, who is listed as the council's vice-chairman on its website, had recently resigned from the council.
Mr Bearshaw said he did not want to raise it again, but added: “It has been made quite clear through the LGA and the monitor that the resignation stands.
Mr Moate replied: “No it doesn’t”, while Robert Moore said the resignation had not been accepted.
But Mr Bearshaw responded: "What I'm going to do now is go to a solicitor and call a judicial review of this."
He confirmed that he would be contacting the council's own solicitor and that it would have to meet the costs, as a result.
He said: “We have an issue with a councillor who has resigned. The monitor has informed us you can’t rescind a resignation. We are ignoring legislation, our own standing orders and the LGA.”
Later, when Mr Moate presented the proposed parish precept for the forthcoming financial year, another councillor, Nigel Collison, said he objected to “a member of the public” speaking outside the council’s open forum.
Kevin Pell, who was elected as the council’s third chairman this year at the beginning of the meeting, said an email had been circulated to all councillors explaining the situation.
But both Mr Bearshaw and Mr Collison refused to take part in a vote on the precept, which was carried with one absention, claiming it was unlawful.
When the threat of legal action was repeated, another councillor was heard to comment: “Yeah, good luck.”
Mr Bearshaw also accused the parish clerk, Jenny Rowe, of illegally removing him from a recent finance committee meeting where the issue had previously been raised.
However, both he and Mr Collison also faced accusations about their conduct as a member of the public questioned why their declarations of pecuniary interests, which would prevent them from taking part in particular votes, had not been completed properly.
Both men insisted that they had completed the relevant papers.