Poll looms as Lincolnshire councillor Sara Cliff gives up seat after cash row
A new county councillor, who will replace controversial reverend Sara Cliff, should be elected within two months.
Trade unionist and likely candidate Nick Parker has formally requested a by-election in the Lincoln East ward.
Under electoral law, if a request is made in writing, signed by two ward residents, a by-election must take place within 35 days, excluding weekends and public holidays.
Councillor Sara Cliff quit her seat this week after the Echo revealed how she had claimed £23,000 in allowances despite attending just 19 meetings in three years and after relocating 100 miles away in Cambridgeshire.
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Mr Parker, who lives in the ward and is a Trade Union Socialist Coalition candidate, said: "I made the request because the residents of Lincoln East have been left without representation on the county council and we can't wait any longer."
Leader of the opposition at the county council and head of the Independent Party Marianne Overton said: "She had to step down. It was absolutely the right thing for her to do."
In a statement to the Echo, Ms Cliff said: "I do feel that I have been misrepresented in the media and people will not be aware that I was seriously ill for six months in 2010 which impacted on the attendance record as reported.
"However, while I did feel willing and able to carry on representing the people of Lincoln East, in view of the unwarranted hostility in the press, I am clear that this action is in the best interests of the Methodist church, the county council and my own family.
"As a matter of record I have awarded my Big Society Fund to St Barnabas Hospice to help support the excellent sevices they provide."
Meanwhile, in light of last week's story, a top county politician has called for county councillors' allowance money to be determined by the number of meetings they attend.
John Marriott, leader of the council's Liberal Democrats, says he has never understood why the attendance allowance was abolished in 2001.
"That needs to return to prevent examples like Sara Cliff," said Mr Marriott. "We should have kept it without a doubt.
"It was the Labour government at the time that made the change and I never agreed with it.
"It is a rule that is massively subject to abuse."
However, David Forbes, assistant director for resources at the council, said Government abolition of the old scheme in 2001 means "there are no legal powers to resurrect this allowance scheme".
Conservative leader defends Ms Cliff... p48