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Tostock Parish Council made subject of injunction in row over councillor's attendance

A parish council has been made the subject of an injunction in a row over a councillor's attendance.

A High Court judge has placed an interim injunction on Tostock Parish Council, blocking it from replacing Olivia Boland, who was removed from office for not attending meetings.

Ms Boland said she did not go to the meetings due to concerns over Covid-19 safety and took the issue to court as she felt the way in which the council dealt with the matter was ‘grossly unfair’.

Olivia Boland. Picture: Mark Westley.
Olivia Boland. Picture: Mark Westley.

In a statement to the High Court, Ms Boland said she received an email on June 10 from Sharon Burman, town clerk, stating: “A period of six months has passed since your apologies for absence were received for the meeting of Tostock Parish Council, on 9th December 2020.

“As you have not sought the Council’s approval for your absence at any meeting held since that date, under the provisions of s.85 (1) Local Government Act 1972 you have automatically vacated office on 9th June 2021 and therefore cease to be a member of the Council. A casual vacancy will be declared.”

Ms Boland, who was elected in May 2019, had not been to council meetings since last summer.

Olivia Boland joined Tostock Parish Council in 2019. Picture: Mark Westley.
Olivia Boland joined Tostock Parish Council in 2019. Picture: Mark Westley.

In her statement, Ms Boland said she did not attend a meeting in May as she had just had her second Covid-19 jab, nor a meeting in December due to coronavirus safety concerns.

She said the use of Zoom or similar online communication had not been permitted, but was able to take part in some council business via email, which had been signed off by chairperson Pip Fletcher and the town clerk.

In the statement, Ms Boland added: “Given that it was the clerk and the chairman who insisted we were not allowed to use Zoom etc, and ordered us to conduct email meetings to discharge our statutory duties, it is therefore, grossly unfair, now that I am the only councillor to be vacated by the clerk, without the council obtaining proper legal advice.”

Asked about the injunction, Mrs Fletcher said: “Due to current legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for the parish council to comment.”

Ms Boland added while she had experienced problems with the parish council, the villagers and residents of Tostock had been 'lovely' and 'wonderful' to her throughout her time in the area.

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