Ousted councillor considers a return after support messages

Mark Bamforth during his time as postmaster on Warton Street, Lytham
Mark Bamforth during his time as postmaster on Warton Street, Lytham

A Lytham councillor who lost his seat because of illness is set to stand again in the forthcoming by-election.

Mark Bamforth, a long-time sufferer from agoraphobia - a fear of being in public places - was told he could no longer sit on Fylde Council after failing to attend a single council or committee meeting in six months.

Council chief executive Allan Oldfield informed Mr Bamforth by letter in October that his absence from meetings breached the Local Government Act 1972.

The vacancy in St John’s ward was confirmed at this week’s full council meeting and a by-election is set to follow in the New Year, with a date yet to be announced.

But Mr Oldfield has confirmed that the previous incumbent is entitled to stand again under the Local Government Act rules – and Mr Bamforth says he is seriously considering doing so when nominations open.

Mr Bamforth, who long ran the Warton Street post office in Lytham until it closed last year, polled almost two thirds of the vote to retain the seat for the Ratepayers’ group in the March 2014 by-election.

But the agoraphobia, from which he had suffered since his teens, made it impossible for him to attend meetings - and he called for a change to the rules to allow technology, such as video links, to be allowed.

“The rules on serving councillors don’t allow for that kind of input and I think that needs to be looked at,” he said.

“I have been looking into the situation in other parts of the country and some flexibility appears to be allowed.

“The messages of support have been much appreciated and have encouraged me to seriously consider standing again.”

Chief executive Allan Oldfield said : “Where this kind of situation happens, a councillor automatically loses his seat. The previous councillor can stand again and it would be up to the electorate whether or not he returns to the council.”