Councillor tries to undo his resignation but council says no

A strange turn of events in Wigan with a councillor trying to undo a resignation but being told he can’t:

Chaos reigned yesterday after Wigan Council insisted an independent councillor could not reverse his decision to quit the chamber.

Coun Steve Jones, independent representative for Bryn ward, performed a dramatic U-turn when he posted on Facebook that he was staying on. This came just a few days after he announced he was stepping down on February 20 for personal reasons.

However, the town hall has now insisted that he actually resigned on the day he said he would step down and a notice of casual vacancy for a new councillor has already been published…

Coun Jones [had told the council]: “With a lot of thought I have to inform you that as of the 20th of February 2018 I will be resigning my role as an elected councillor for Wigan Council.”

The law says that a resignation takes effect when received, but is a resignation that is described as being for a date in the future really a resignation before that date? I think the lawyers will have some fun with this one.

In the meantime, he has since turned up to a council meeting and insisted on taking his seat as a councillor. Only when the meeting was adjourned did he agree to move to the public gallery.

Councillor Jones’s vacillation over whether or not to resign may be connected with the run of controversies he has recently been in, with a caution for assault, a drink driving conviction, a series of aggressive social media postings about the council’s Chief Executive and a warning that he would not be able to vote on the council’s budget as he was behind with his council tax payments.

UPDATE: Cllr Jones has managed to undo his resignation after going to court. Although the notice of election had been issued, ballot papers printed, postal votes sent out – and even at least 754 votes returned, the courts ruled it was wrong of the council to take his resignation as having immediate effect. The council and the Returning Officer were granted leave to appeal but decided not to, “in order to protect the public purse”.

6 responses to “Councillor tries to undo his resignation but council says no”

  1. I’m fascinated that the position of councillor should be described as a “casual vacancy”, which seems more appropriate to a relief bus driver than an elected representative.

    • A casual vacancy is the legal term for any vacancy arising during the expected term of office. Casual means ‘by chance’ in this context. (From the Latin word ‘casus’ meaning ‘case’, ’cause’ or ‘chance’). The term is used in Australia and New Zealand politics as well as in Britain.

      J.K. Rowling’s 2012 novel, ‘The Casual Vacancy’, describes the events surrounding the unexpected death of a parish councillor.

      • But I see what you mean! It does indeed sound alarmingly like you need to hire a new temp.

  2. Well if he said he was resigning effectively 20th Feb then you can take a view that that can’t be withdrawn. I’m not sure how you publish a notice of vacancy prior to that though as that would need um, an actual vacancy.

    Is this the moment to repeat the legend of the Lib Dem councillor who found a copy of an opposition councillors resignation letter on a photocopier and did the only responsible thing and handed it in to the Chief Exec’s office. Of course it had been intended to be handed in a few weeks later to time the by-election conveniently for Labour…… 🙂

  3. Perhaps the council’s legal officer should have notified him that a future date resignation was not acceptable, a bit like a post-dated cheque..
    As for J.K.Rowling’s ‘A Casual Vacancy’ don’t bother, I watched the film and it seemed like she had done her ‘research’ via the Daily Mail, it was so wrong on so many counts.!

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