Councillor claimed allowances and did not quit - despite moving to Prague
- Credit: Vladislav Zolotov/iStock/Getty Images Plus
A Norfolk councillor did not resign and continued to claim allowances, despite moving to the Czech Republic 18 months ago.
Conservative Rebecca Grattan moved to Prague - almost 600 miles away from her Brundall ward - in February 2020 to take a job.
She had taken a job as chief people and culture officer for cybersecurity software company Avast, just before the Covid pandemic prevented travel.
But it was only at the end of last month that she resigned from Broadland District Council.
Ms Grattan had been taking part, virtually, in Broadland District Council meetings, which were being held online, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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The council's member champion for young people, she was recorded as present for seven of 10 full council between February last year and May this year.
But minutes from Brundall Parish Council reveal that, from August last year another councillor had been asked to stand in for her at parish council meetings.
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They stated Grant Nurden, councillor for Marshes ward, had been asked by Shaun Vincent, Conservative leader at Broadland, to temporarily stand in for Ms Grattan and for Brundall's other district councillor Michael Snowling, who was suffering from ill-health.
Broadland District Council confirmed Ms Grattan resigned on Monday, July 26. No date for a by-election has been fixed.
The council said she had claimed the basic allowance for councillors, which is £4,962 a year, for the months up to her July resignation.
Ms Grattan, who has taken part in podcasts discussing her Avast role, did not respond to interview requests by telephone, text or email.
Mr Vincent has also not responded to attempts to contact him about her resignation.
But Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Broadland District Council, said: "In my view, this is indefensible. She should have resigned as soon as it was possible to have a by-election.
"Whilst not performing her duties of councillor to the fullest, she should not have been claiming an allowance.
"It is a huge shame for Brundall that they have not been represented, for many months, in the way the community should have been."
Long distance councillors
Rebecca Grattan is not the first councillor to attract controversy for trying to represent their constituents after moving abroad.
Suffolk county councillor Brian Riley sparked outrage in 2015 when he moved to America, but said he could still represent people in Hadleigh.
The Conservative said he planned to continue to serve as a councillor because he would be returning to Suffolk on business regularly and could fit council meetings around that.
He was expelled from the Conservative group, but continued to sit as a councillor for more than a year before he finally stood down in August 2016.
Donald Adey, who was an independent on Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council moved to Scotland in 2018, but continued to represent his Trumpington ward.
He resigned a year later admitting it had "proved difficult" to represent his ward from 400 miles away.