A LABOUR councillor and former chair of her local community council has decided to step down this week, following calls for her disqualification over claims she had not attended meetings for more than six months.
Independent members of the Labour-majority Brackla Community Council said Cllr Margaret Phelan should be disqualified from her position, claiming the last meeting she was at was in September of 2022.
They referred to Section 85 of the Local Government Act of 1972, which says that if a member doesn’t attend a meeting for six consecutive months or more without approval from the authority, they will cease to be a member.
However, Labour members disputed the request, with a legal grey area becoming the centre of an increasingly sour dispute, with members saying a HR committee meeting councillor Phelan attended in October 2022 allowed her to remain in her position as town councillor.
The five independent members on the council who opposed this argued that the meeting in question was inquorate, meaning not enough members were in attendance, as well as claiming it was not properly recorded, opened or adjourned.
It led to numerous accusations of improper conduct levied back and forth between members, along with debates over whether or not the matter had been properly settled.
While the issue was once again set to be discussed at the council’s monthly meeting on June 15, a representative of Brackla Community Council since confirmed that Cllr Phelan had stepped down from her position as councillor.
Independent member for Brackla Community Council, Cllr Keith Hughes, said he felt as though this was the right thing to do in the circumstances, adding that they will now be looking to call a by-election for the vacant seat.
He said: “We welcome the resignation from Brackla Community Council of the former chair, a role that she has been unable to undertake for the last 9 months.
“We respect her privacy and reasons for doing so, but believe that the residents of Brackla deserve representation from all 12 elected councillors and if she is unable to do this, then the decision to step down is the right thing.”