Former town councillor cites health reasons for no-show at meetings

A former Berwick town councillor has revealed that health reasons were to blame for her non-attendance at council meetings.

By Ian Smith
Wednesday, 01 May, 2019, 12:44
Hayley Nichols

Berwick Town Council announced last week that a casual vacancy had arisen as a result of the failure of Coun Hayley Nichols to attend meetings for six months without excuse.

Hayley, who had represented St Boisils ward in Tweedmouth since 2017, said: “I would like to set the record straight rather than people thinking I just haven’t bothered to show up to any meetings for six months.

“This has been a hard six months for me. I have also moved out of Berwick, so for these reasons I have not been around. It has nothing to do with not being bothered, it has everything to do with my health which comes above everything else.”

Town clerk Gareth Davies told councillors: “We monitor councillor attendance on a regular basis. In this case we wrote to the councillor in question and listed the remaining meetings they could attend in order not to fall foul of Section 5 (i). They indicated they would not be able to attend those meetings.”

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He indicated a notice of vacancy would be published and, within 14 days of that notice, a request for an election to fill the vacancy can be made to the elections office at County Hall.

Ten requests are needed to trigger an election. If those are not requisitioned, the council will go down the route of co-opting a new member.

“If there was a contested by-election for this vacancy, it would cost approximately £3,500,” he said. “It’s why we make the effort we do to try and avoid casual vacancies if we can but, in this case, we were unable to do so.”