'Councillor vacancies getting harder to fill' – Biggleswade town clerk speaks after Labour member is disqualified for failing to attend meetings
PUBLISHED: 11:20 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 20 February 2017
Biggleswade’s town clerk has spoken of the difficulties of finding people to stand as councillors in the current climate after a Labour councillor was disqualified after failing to attend meetings.
Becky Kerfoot was sacked from the council after she failed to attend a meeting of either a committee or full council for six months – the statutory time limit imposed by all councils.
The council wrote to her at the end of January informing her that she had lost her position because she hadn’t attended a council meeting since July 26 last year, and a committee meeting since March 15.
The Comet understands time pressures caused her to quit.
The council has now advertised a notice of election to fill the vacancy left by Ms Kerfoot. This requires 10 people from the ward to call for an election.
If this fails the council will be forced to co-opt a candidate, which means councillors will simply have to choose one from any put forward.
But the council has already had to abandon an election for another vacancy left by independent councillor Bernard Rix after his resignation in January, and will have to co-opt a replacement.
Town clerk Rob McGregor said the situation shows just how difficult it is to get people to volunteer to be councillors.
He said: “Across the board it’s very difficult to get people to come forward. Life has changed. people have issues and they want issues sorting, but they don’t realise issues and politics are the same thing.
“If they want to get involved they have to stand for council.
“People air their views a lot on social media but don’t want to put themselves forward for a voluntary role, but you’ve got to admire the people that do do it.”
Mr McGregor is developing a proposal to create a youth council to help encourage young people to get involved in politics in Biggleswade.
This will be discussed at the council’s next full meeting on February 28.
The nomination for the election to replace Ms Kerfoot closes on Februray 21. If an election is called it will take place before the end of April. For more information about the council and the current vacancies visit biggleswadetowncouncil.gov.uk.