A VACANCY has arisen on Lyme Regis Town Council as one member has failed to attend meetings for six consecutive months.
In line with the Local Government Act 1972, Leon Howe has automatically ceased to be a councillor having not attended a meeting since summer.
Son of former Lyme Regis councillor Rikey Austin, Leon joined the council after winning a seat in the May 2019 election, becoming one of the youngest ever members of the council at just 20 years old.
He also stood unsuccessfully on a Labour ticket in the Dorset Council election in May 2019.
Notice of a vacancy on Lyme Regis Town Council has been given today (December 22) and an election will be held if 10 or more Lyme Regis electors request one within 14 days of the notice.
This means requests for an election must be received by Dorset Council’s returning officer by January 15 2021.
However, an election to fill the space is not expected to be held until May 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If an election is not called for by 10 or more electors, the vacancy will be filled by co-option.
Town clerk John Wright said: “As Leon Howe did not attend the full council meeting on December 16 2020, he has failed to attend council meetings for six consecutive months and as such, he automatically ceases to be a member of the council.
“This is outlined in the Local Government Act 1972 and is referred to in the council’s standing orders.
“Leon has been informed he is no longer a councillor and notification has been given to Dorset Council’s electoral services team.
“However, due to regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020, local by-elections cannot be held until 6 May 2021, so the vacancy will remain until at least that date.”
Dorset Council has confirmed if an election is called, a poll will take place on 6 May 2021.
The casual notice also states: “The government has indicated that the situation will be kept under review, and if safe to do so, further legislation will be laid that will permit casual vacancy elections and referendums sooner than the 6 May 2021.
“If this is the case, we will publish a revised notice.”
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, said: “Councillors attendance is important and we have no choice when the level fails to meet the legal minimum requirement of any council.
“It’s disappointing to see any member leave but it’s not in our gift to allow the level of absence to continue.
“I wish Leon well and hope he takes a sense of the experience of being on a council with him and applies the positive things he may have learned from it in anything he goes on to do.”
Mr Howe commented on Lyme Regis Town Council’s Facebook page saying he had enjoyed his time but it was not suited to him, adding: “Hopefully someone will come along who fits the role better.”