The disqualification of a Margate councillor because he is now deemed to be holding a paid role with Thanet council is being challenged.
Margate Central ward councillor Ian Venables, who was elected in 2017, has been disqualified by the authority from serving the ward after taking a role with a new homelessness team.
Thanet council says that means he is now indirectly employed by the authority but Mr Venables’ lawyers have argued that he remains with his current employer at the isle’s drug and alcohol service.
The homelessness team is a multi-agency group that will work with those sleeping rough on issues including rehousing, mental health and addiction.
It is understood Mr Venables was put forward for the new role by a Thanet council officer and the drug and alcohol service which he has worked for over the last 25 years.
The Isle of Thanet News also understands that Mr Venables’ employer approached Thanet council to check there was no bar to him taking the placement.
But Thanet council has now declared the Margate Central seat vacant and said the role means Mr Venables is disqualified from sitting on the authority.
Thanet councillors are due to discuss the issue at a meeting on Thursday (October 11). A report to members says: “Mr Venables applied for and has taken up a secondment with the council as a specialist to assist within the council’s housing team in relation to rough sleeping.
“He took up this secondment position on the 1 August 2018. This arrangement disqualified Cllr Venables from being a Thanet District Councillor, under Section 80(1)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972 with effect from 1 August 2018.
“Under the Act a councillor is disqualified from holding office as councillor, if they hold ‘paid office or employment or an appointment’ which is made or confirmed by the council.
“Advice has been sought from counsel and he confirms that the secondment arrangement is caught by Section 80(1)(a) of the Act and cited a similar situation which was considered by the High Court in 1999.”
Thanet council says a notice of vacancy will be published prior to a by-election.