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Six Month rule

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As a resident at a Parish Council Meeting the six month rule was explained that it meant that apologies for absence and being accepted by the Parish Council at monthly meetings does not delay the six month rule so in my view that means there is no difference between sending apologies and having them approved or being absent . A representative from a county association of local councils stated for the six month rule NOT to apply means that any Councillor who is going to be absent needs to formally write to the Council and for that to be approved and then they have an absence of leave for up to six months Which is correct please and why. Is there any legislation or case law that clarifys this
asked by (1.3k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
If apologies, are received AND accepted then the sixth month rule does not apply.

If apologies are not received, or if received, not accepted, then the sixth month rule starts / continues.

There is no requirement that they must be approved.
answered by (7.3k points)
+1 vote

The legislation is the Local Government Act 1972 s85 (1) which states that 

"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."

The emphasis is on the fact that if the reason for absence is approved then the clock resets.  Therefore some councillors could play this card, turn up once in 6 months and still retain their seat.  In our council, a resolution was agreed that no apologies or reasons for absence would be accepted, just noted, which means that the clock cannot be reset.

answered by (12.5k points)
Whilst that is one solution it seems to fly in the face of the regulation. I cannot see how an apology for absence can be blanket rejected without the councillors being able to accept or reject the reason given. It is for the council to hear the reason and on that basis decide. Surely it cannot be pre-decided.
Should the PC suspect the manipulation of the system by the absent councillor then that should be taken into account at the time of deciding. Nothing stopping the council requesting more details or proof ( including a note from their Mom :D).
Seriously, it would be rather awkward if the council out of hand automatically under such a policy rejected the apology  if the councillor was in hospital as a result of say a road accident.
The legislation gives the choice to the authority to accept or reject the reasons.  My council has made the decision to not accept apologies in order that a previous experience of a councillor turning up for 1 meeting in 6 months and doing sweet nothing in between, isn't repeated.

Your example of a councillor being in hospital is not really relevant as they should be attending before their accident and I wouldn't imagine that they would still be in hospital 6 months later....  and if they are, are they really fit to hold office?
I can see the basic logic and desire to avoid unacceptable behaviour by a councillor In a democratic situation in which councils operate surely each case has to be treated and judged on its merits. If you have a blanket ban on accepting any apologies then  every member who cannot attend must be marked as absent without reason. Surely you cannot withdraw this right ( as the regulation states) because of the actions of one bad councillor. (sledgehammer to crack a walnut)
But, your council has decided and must of course defend any challenges to their decision that might be made.
 I am sure as the clerk you have already advised them of possible outcomes. ;D
My interpretation as above is that if apologies for absence are approved the clock does not start, until the Council not just the Chair refuses to accept apologies.If however a Councillor is absent without apologies the clock starts. The Parish Council I am refering to had one Councillor who sent apologies that are minuted as being approved since last attending and one Councillor who has been absent for over six months, both have now been removed as Councillors by a curt letter without any of the other Councillors be aware of the situation. In the case of the Councillor who had sent apologies being a small Parish it was quite widely known this was due to illness followed by surgey, yet there was no warning that he would be ejected, no phone call to enquire of his well being
Removal of an elected councillor from office is a serious matter as the council is going against the declared wishes of the electorate. It should not be done on a personal whim or without due process or agreement of the council. Doing so would leave the council at risk for such actions should they be challenged.

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