REMEMBER THIS EXCLUSIVE STORY? Almost three months ago we published an interview with a Conservative county councillor who said EU regulations affecting his snuff distribution business had forced him to leave the country.
As a result, Isle of Man-based Councillor Roderick Lawrie said he would be left with no alternative but to resign his seat on Northumberland county council where, as Norham and Islandshires representative, he has responsibility to represent the interests of a dozen north Northumberland parishes.
“I have no other option,” he said sadly, at the same time hitting back at claims that his attendances at full council meetings in Morpeth had suffered. You can read the original story in full by clicking here.
Since then, NOTHING has happened: Cllr Lawrie last attended a meeting of the full council in November 2018; the last time he attended a monthly meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council – one of five regional subdivisions which examines local issues in detail – was also last November; and it is, apparently, some months since he was last seen at a variety of parish council meetings.
One parish chairman, whose identity I feel I cannot reveal, wrote to The Clarion: “Despite your best efforts, it appears [Cllr Lawrie] has not yet fallen on his sword; he did not attend the last meeting of the North Northumberland Committee held in Alnwick on February 21 (the sole absentee).
“Perhaps another nudge, since you seem to be the only person who has been able to contact him!”
A parish councillor from a different parish (and, admittedly, a rival political party), while expressing some sympathy for Cllr Lawrie’s position, said that north Northumberland parishes and constituents were “simply not getting the representation they deserve” and that the seat ought to be declared a vacancy and a by-election fought.
A by-election if or when Mr Lawrie’s seat is vacated is inevitable, but presumably Northumberland must await his resignation before it can act. In reply to The Clarion’s recent inquiry about the situation, NCC elections officer Jackie Brodie wrote: ”Thank you for contacting the elections office. I can confirm that there is NOT a vacancy for the division of Norham and Islandshires.”
Will Booth, senior elections manager for Northumberland County, explained that ongoing qualification to serve is based on the qualification of the individual at the time of their nomination but that he/she must remain qualified to vote in the constituency from the day of nomination onwards for the full term of office.
So the ball is in Cllr Lawrie’s court. . .