Parish Council vacancy created after absent member ‘disqualified’

A VACANCY has been created on Shaw and Crompton Parish Council following a breach of attendance rules by first-time councillor Sean Villanueva.

Sean Villaneuva

But a by-election will not be needed to find a replacement for the Shaw-based former councillor.

Leicester born and raised Mr Villaneuva was one of 12 new members who took their seats after the elections in May 2019.

However, because of a change in circumstances, the mental health professional was unable to attend council meetings on a regular basis.

By law, politicians who fail to attend six months of consecutive meetings are automatically disqualified for persistent absence.

Without a request for regulations not to be implemented, Mr Villaneuva was officially disqualified in December.

Former Mayor of Oldham Derek Heffernan was controversially removed from Saddleworth Parish Council in 2018 after his own breach.

A by-election can only be triggered if 10 or more people officially call for a new vote.

That deadline has since passed leaving current councillors to decide on who should replace Mr Villaneuva.

Parish Council clerk, Tony Hilton, told the February meeting: “We had to go through the protocol of advertising the casual vacancy where I gave residents the chance to call a by-election.

“I have had notification from the elections’ officer that has not been triggered and therefore it is down to the Parish Council to recruit for the vacancy through co-option as soon as is practicable.

“When we co-opted back in May/June last year the process was to give members chance to approach whomever and ask them to complete a brief expression of interest to be co-opted. I suggest we follow the same process.”

Councillors agreed to set a February 29 deadline for applications with a view to co-opting Mr Villaneuva’s successor at the March full council meeting.

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