A strange turn of events in Wigan:
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”,
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