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Fourth council rebel resigns parish seat

PUBLISHED: 22:00 02 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:50 03 March 2010

TRIMLEY'S final member of the "Gang of Four" has resigned his council seat in protest of new government rules that force members to declare their investments and allegiances.

TRIMLEY'S final member of the "Gang of Four" has resigned his council seat in protest of new government rules that force members to declare their investments and allegiances.

Trevor Jones handed in his letter of resignation at the annual parish council meeting this week following in the footsteps of three other councillors.

Only last month Nigel Bantoft, Brian Greening and Colin D'Eath dramatically handed in their letters of resignation and walked out at the end of the annual parish meeting.

They were angry at having to sign a public register giving details of financial investments which may have a bearing on their decision-making, jobs, unions and organisations they belong to - and to act as informants on their colleagues.

They say it is an infringement of their rights and bureaucracy gone mad when all they wanted to do was represent and improve their community.

Trevor Jones, who resigned on Monday, said: "The new code of conduct rules is ridiculous and has no bearing on the work we do to represent the community.

"I would have to declare that I am a member of a teacher's union but I don't have to declare my interests to the education authority to be a governor of a primary school."

As councillors across the county consider their futures, the secretary of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils has stepped in to try to assure them that the controversial new code of conduct will have little effect on their service.

"Although the code demands the highest standards from councillors, I have no doubt that from my experience of working for 350 parish and town councils for five and a half years they will have little trouble in abiding by it," said Mary Mitson-Woods.

"I would appeal to all parish and town councillors not to resign and deprive their communities of the value and commitment built up over the years."

Any parish councillor who fails to sign the new register of interests within 28 days of the new Code of Conduct being adopted nationally on May 5 will be disqualified from serving as a councillor.

Alun Michael, minister of state for rural affairs, said the government recognised the efforts of parish councils and was not attempting to abolish them or secretly monitoring their effectiveness.

Trimley St Mary Parish Council now has five vacancies out of 11 which they are trying to fill.

The council has indicated that it is willing to co-opt new members but villagers have until May 10 to ask for a poll.

The parish council has agreed to write to organisations in the area to see if there are any suitable candidates who wish to join the parish council.

To be eligible to serve, people would have to live within three miles, work in, or own property in the village.


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