Ottery councillor to leave after not attending meeting in six months

Matt Coppell

Matt Coppell - Credit: Archant

An Ottery district councillor has left his post after breaching legislation for not attending any meetings in six months.

Councillor Matt Coppell, who represented Ottery St Mary rural ward, had not been to a meeting since December 5.

Under local government law, all councillors are expected to attend one meeting in any six month period - unless dispensation is sought before the expiry of the six months.

An EDDC spokeswoman said Mr Coppell has ceased to be a member of the council on June 6.

Mr Coppell, who stood as an independent East Devon Alliance candidate, told the Herald that as he was self-employed, work had made it ‘increasingly difficult’ to attend meetings.

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The West Hill resident said: “I believe there is more to being a councillor than attending meetings, however, and that it is the work you do outside of these meetings that can be generally more constructive and rewarding. I have always made myself available to my constituents whenever called upon and have enjoyed this aspect of being a councillor a great deal.

“However, whilst I am naturally disappointed not to have seen out the full four year term, I have no regrets about it coming to a premature end.

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“Of late, I have not been able to dedicate the time I would like to the role and therefore feel it is for the best that someone else is allowed to take up the reins.

“My only hope is that, for the sake of democracy, another independent candidate can be found to stand in the resulting by-election.”

The returning officer will now publish a notice of vacancy, which could lead to a by-election if two electors in the ward request an election.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “We understand that due to Matt Coppell’s work commitments, the last council meeting that he was able to attend was on 5 December 2017. Therefore, he accordingly ceased to be a member of East Devon District Council on 6 June 2018.

“The returning officer, Mark Williams, is now required to publish a notice of vacancy and if two electors in the Ottery St Mary Rural Ward request an election then a by-election will be held.

“The next scheduled elections are in May 2019 so the period of office will be from the day after the by-election until the 2019 election date.”

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