Whole parish council resigns in South Pickenham

An entire Norfolk council has quit in protest at new rules governing parish clerks.

All five members of South Pickenham Parish Council, near Swaffham, have withdrawn their nominations for the forthcoming local elections, leaving the community without any grassroots representatives.

The parish only has an electorate of 85 and the council - like many others across the country - has given its clerk Doris Johnson a so-called honorarium to cover some of the costs she incurs.

But last week the councillors heard that under new HR Revenue and Customs rules, they would have to treat Mrs Johnson as an employee and pay PAYE and National Insurance.

Chairman Bob Davey, vice chairman John Blackburne and fellow councillors Robin and Linda Allen and Susan Bloomfield were all so incensed by the changes that they have quit.

Breckland Council will now have to find three people in South Pickenham to 'conduct the parish's affairs' until new councillors could be elected.

Mr Davey - who has been a councillor for seven years - said: 'It is ridiculous and we were given the news without any notice.

Most Read

'We are such a small village and we have really tidied the place up and I am very sad to be resigning.

'I hope that our stand will help bring some sense and it can be sorted out. The Prime Minister talks about the Big Society and they cannot have it both ways.'

Breckland deputy chief executive Mark Stokes said they had not been given a reason for the withdrawal by the Pickenham councillors and he had never come across a similar situation.

Breckland will also have to find people to look after Snetterton and Sparham as they did not have enough names nominated to be quorate as a council.

They are thought to be unrelated to the Pickenham issue.

Mr Stokes said the number of parishes having contested elections this year was up from the last local elections.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter