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There have been several threads on the 6 months rule and several  points clarified,  There has been much emphasis on apologies or reasons for absence   being accepted.  Can I be clear how is "accepted" defined .  Is any reason only conclusively accepted if it is recorded in the minutes i.e.  the full details (name and reason) .

I also understand that as things stand no exceptions are allowable due to Covid (unless a policy has been made)
by (3.4k points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
The six-month rule is contained in Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 and states:

85 Vacation of office by failure to attend meetings.
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, 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, he 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.

Approval by the authority is deemed to require debate, resolution, vote and record in the minutes. Councils do not have to approve and MrsAbster has mentioned previously that her council has a policy of no approvals.

The reason for the exemption is to deal with issues such as temporary incapacity, for example, medical issues, but it is frequently abused, particularly in higher authorities, where a paid member may emigrate to France, but complete a four-year term of office by popping back on Eurostar to attend two meetings each year.

A number of local councils simply closed down when Covid came and allowed either their Chair or Clerk to run everything, leading to disqualification.
by (45.9k points)
As Mentorman has stated, you need to check the minutes of every meeting since he last attended. If the minutes state the Council has accepted or approved (or any other positive wording) his apology for failing to attend, then the six-month rule doesn't apply. If, on the other hand, he didn't submit apologies, or if the apologies were noted but not approved, after six months the Clerk should write to the councillor and inform him that he has vacated his office in accordance with Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972. The Clerk should also notify the principal authority so that they may start the process of advertising the vacancy.
I’m confused his apologies have been there but he hasn’t attended any meetings. There is no talk of long term absence anywhere
If the councillor has tendered his apologies and the reason given is accepted by the council then the 6 month rule cannot be invoked. This is why at the beginning of the meeting the chair should state apologies given by non attending councillors( provided by the clerk) and call for acceptance or rejection from the council ( show of hands would be sufficient) and the results placed in the minutes for adoption at the next council meeting.
To add to Mentorman's advice, when a Councillor sends his or her apologies, they must also give a reason for their absence. The Council must then decide whether or not the reason for absence is acceptable. There should be a vote on this. If the Council votes to accept the reason, the Clerk should record the decision like any other in the minutes. A Councillor who has submitted a reason deemed acceptable by the majority of Councillors is not subject to the six-month rule at that time.

If no reason is submitted, or the Council rejects the reason, or no vote is taken and recorded in the minutes, the six-month rule applies from the date of their last attendance or last accepted and minuted apology, whichever is the later.
Thank you for that answer. That’s what I’d thought. My Parish Council is a shambles, the last meeting was on the 18th of November and still no draft minutes. I’m having to spend my nights learning and preparing for the next meeting so I can lawfully get my points across

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