Thomas Bridge 12 March 2015

Councillor refuses to resign despite moving to USA

A county councillor has refused to step down despite moving to the USA, claiming he can still do his job while living almost 4,000 miles away.

Brian Riley, a Conservative councillor at Suffolk County Council, will continue to be entitled to his £10,000 yearly allowance despite moving to North Carolina.

While he cannot be forced to resign from his role, Riley expects to travel back to Hadleigh to fulfil his role every few months.

He also pledged to carry out his duties via Skype, phone and email.

Council leader Mark Bee and chief executive Deborah Cadman are understood to have summoned Riley to a meeting where he will be urged to resign from the authority if the American move goes ahead.

Riley is under pressure to quit before March 20 so a by-election can take place on the same day as the May 7 General Election. The councillor had the Conservative whip withdrawn from him on Tuesday.

Bee has now blasted Riley’s decision as ‘completely bonkers’.

Riley told the East Anglian Daily Times: ‘I am moving to the USA, but I shall be coming back to the UK every six or seven weeks to keep up with my council work.

'We are in the 21st century with e-mails 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.’

He added that he didn’t think a member could continue to remain a member of a parish or district council while living abroad because they deal with ‘nitty gritty’ issues.

‘But as a county councillor my role is more strategic and I don’t think it will be a problem doing my work from Raleigh.’

Bee told the BBC: ‘We have been quite nonplussed by the suggestion that a councillor who represents a place like Hadleigh can feel they can do that job and live 4,000 miles away.’

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