Covid-19: Suffolk parish councillors reinstated after meetings suspended

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Phone box in SuttonImage source, Geograph/Adrian Cable
Image caption,
Parish councillors in Sutton last met in January, before lockdown

Rarely-used powers have been invoked to reinstate parish councillors who were unable to attend online meetings because of internet issues.

Sutton and Knodishall parish councils in Suffolk have not convened since early 2020 because not all members could participate in online meetings.

Under the Local Government Act, members had to step down for non-attendance.

But East Suffolk Council agreed to temporarily reinstate them until an election could be held.

The government passed emergency legislation during the coronavirus lockdown to enable councils to meet remotely via video conferencing, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

But according to a report presented to district councillors, the two parish councils were unable to do so because some members had poor broadband or lacked the right information technology.

Sutton last met in person in January, and Knodishall in February, with councillors standing down in the summer, after six months of non-attendance.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said: "There is a need for this council to make temporary appointments under Section 91 of the Local Government Act 1972, so Knodishall Parish Council and Sutton Parish Council are quorate and can transact business."

Elections are expected to be held in May.

The council also approved delegation to its leader and chief executive to make further appointments to any other parish councils with the same problem.

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