Labour councillor calls for Ashfield District Council leader Jason Zadrozny to be disqualified from parish council role

A Labour parish councillor has called Coun Jason Zadrozny to be disqualified from his position on the parish council they both sit on.

Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 2:16 pm

Coun Cheryl Butler (Lab) says Coun Zadrozny (Ash Ind) has not attended any official meetings at Annesley and Felley Parish Council in the past six months and should therefore be disqualified for non-attendance.

Coun Zadrozny, who is also the leader of Ashfield District Council and leader of the Independent Alliance at Nottinghamshire County Council, dismissed this claim, saying that he had attended two committee meetings, on February 28 and March 4 via Zoom this year.

However, Coun Butler said this was not good enough as they did not meet the requirements for attendance and Zoom meetings did not count as attendance after The High Court ruled on April 28, 2021 that virtual council meetings could not lawfully take place after May 6, 2021.

Coun Cheryl Butler says Coun Jason Zadrozny should be disqualified for non-attendance of meetings at Annesley & Felley Parish Council but Coun Zadrozny says this is not the case

Coun Butler said: “Current regulations, section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, states ‘if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority’.

"Having checked the, approved and agreed, minutes on the parish council website, the councillor last attended a meeting on November 1, 2021 and no absence was approved by the council, as per the regulations.

"Six months from this date is May 1, 2022.

"Coun Zadrozny is therefore outside the six months attendance rule, he should be disqualified and not be allowed to take part in the Annual General Meeting on May 9.”

Were Coun Zadrozny to be disqualified from the council, a by-election would need to be held for his seat.

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Coun Butler continued: "Coun Zadrozny was very quick to slate the Labour Party, when a recent by-election was called after we had a councillor disqualified for various reasons, Covid among them, for six months non-attendance.

"Maybe he should keep his own house in order before trying to knock down others.

"I would have hoped that he would have set a much better example to others than he has.

“And in any case, the meetings he attended were not committee meetings, they were working groups.

"One was a jubilee working party and one was a budget working party and no official minutes are taken.

"Notes are possibly taken but these are were not official meetings where minutes were taken to be approved.

"Online council meetings have not been allowed since May 7 last year, you had to attend in person or put apologies in.

"You could have your absence extended or approved for reasons such as Covid but just not turning up or not giving notice as what the reason was would not be classed as an approved apology.

"Coun Zadrozny has given apologies but they were not approved, there was no reason given and no acceptance of that reason.

"Reasons for being off have to be approved and they can be, as long as they are given within that six-month period, you can’t do it retrospectively after six months have passed.

"He, or I, or anybody can’t turn round after six months and give a reason then, it has to be within the six-month period of absence.

"The January meeting for the council was cancelled for no given reason, the February one was also cancelled for ‘various reasons’.

"The email that went round said and one of the reasons given was purdah with local elections coming but it was my belief that a meeting could still be held as long we didn’t talk in public about the upcoming election or the candidates standing.

"Those two meetings being cancelled make no difference to attendance rules either.

“The rules are, unfortunately, that the date of your last attendance counts from the first day of six months, regardless of whether there was a meeting or not.”

Replying, Coun Zadrozny said: “What Coun Butler is forgetting is that I attended meetings on February 28 and March 4 this year and they were committee meetings and they were virtual and she’s just not counted them, so she’s got her dates mixed up.

"She’s obviously counting physical meetings but for a parish or any local council, for any non-formal, or committee or sub-committee meeting, we can still do them on Zoom or Teams and I attended them.”