Suffolk

Suffolk county councillor plans to continue role from USA

Brian Riley, Hadleigh and Raleigh, North Carolina Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brian Riley is moving from Hadleigh in Suffolk (top right) to Raleigh, North Carolina

A Suffolk councillor who is moving to the United States is refusing to stand down from his role, insisting he can do the job from almost 4,000 miles away.

Brian Riley, Conservative county councillor for Hadleigh, is moving to North Carolina but plans to visit Suffolk on a regular basis.

He told the East Anglian Daily Times he intended to use email and Skype to continue in his role.

Mark Bee, leader of the council, said Mr Riley's plan "beggars belief".

He said Mr Riley had been suspended by the Conservative group and would be urged to consider resigning as a councillor, preferably in time to allow a by-election to coincide with the general election in May.

But the emigrating councillor cannot be forced to resign from his role, which includes a £10,000-a-year allowance, as legally he is only required to attend one meeting every six months.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Raleigh is about 3,900 miles (6,276km) away from Hadleigh

"We have been quite nonplussed by the suggestion that a councillor who represents a place like Hadleigh can feel that they can do that job and live 4,000 miles away," Mr Bee said.

"We don't feel that represents the spirit of being a locally elected representative and the spirit with which that person is elected.

"We feel it requires much more of a commitment than that and I think the good people of Hadleigh quite frankly deserve better."

The BBC has been unable to contact Mr Riley, but he told the East Anglian Daily Times while effectively "retiring" when he moves to America, he would fly back to the UK "every six or seven weeks".

"I don't feel I will ever retire completely," he told the paper.

According to travel site GoEuro, it would take 12 and a half hours for Mr Riley to fly from Raleigh to London Heathrow and then drive to Hadleigh.

An airfare for the round trip costs from £779.

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