Councillor ‘to fulfil role from US’

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A county councillor who has announced he intends to carry on in his role despite moving 4,000 miles (6,437km) away could be expelled from the Conservatives, party members have said.

Brian Riley, Suffolk County Council member for Hadleigh, has announced he will emigrate to North Carolina next month but believes he can carry on representing local people via email and Skype along with occasional visits back to the UK.

The decision has provoked outrage among fellow councillors and he has been thrown out of the authority’s Conservative group.

Mr Riley, who has previously lived in America, where he met his wife, has now been summoned to a South Suffolk Conservative Association meeting to defend his actions.

Peter Burgoyne, Conservative Party agent for the area, said Mr Riley appeared to have “gone to ground”, with repeated phone calls, text messages and emails receiving no response.

“I live 500 metres from him and I’ve seen no sign of him since this all came out,” he added.

A statement from the association added: “While we are sorry to see him leave, we are concerned that Councillor Riley will not be able effectively to serve his electorate from North Carolina.

“He was requested to resign, allowing a by-election to take place.

“In the absence of a resignation, we endorse the proposal of the Conservative group at the county council to withdraw the whip from Councillor Riley.

“The association will commence, as soon as practicable, the process to appoint a new candidate for the Hadleigh d ivision.”

Mr Burgoyne said that if Mr Riley contacted the association, the meeting would be scheduled for next week to allow him to defend the claim that he has brought the party into disrepute.

The councillor, who was elected in 2013, has not responded to several requests to comment.

He earlier told the East Anglia Daily Times: “We are in the 21st century with emails and Skype and there are plenty of ways of keeping in touch with people in Hadleigh. It isn’t a case of gathering around the parish pump any more.”

Mr Riley cannot legally be forced to resign as a councillor as he is only required to attend one meeting every six months.

County council leader Mark Bee said Mr Riley’s suspension meant he was no longer able to sit with the Tory group and would not be able to attend any group meetings.

If he continues in the role, Mr Riley would be able to claim an annual allowance of more than £10,000 a year. He would not be eligible to stand for re-election in 2017 as candidates must live in the county.

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by The News Editor

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