TWO Bembridge parish councillors have been kicked out for not attending meetings — but one is 'fighting back' against the decision.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, legislation was changed to allow councils at all levels to hold remote or hybrid meetings to keep things in working order.

This has seen most, if not all, parish and town councils on the Isle of Wight go online, holding Zoom calls open to the public.

However, it did not change the rule that councillors should attend a meeting at least once in a period of six months or cease to be a member of the authority.

In Bembridge, two councillor vacancies are now listed, and will remain open until the local elections in May next year, as two councillors supposedly fell foul of the rule.

With meetings of the full Bembridge Parish Council held five months and 29 days apart, some councillors were at risk of losing their positions as they did not sit on any of the sub-committees which met over the lockdown period.

Following the full meeting in July, the last two Open Bembridge councillors, Mike Curtis and Alasdair Steane, are now no longer on the authority.

Community action group Open Bembridge clashed with other members over several years, mainly over proposed plans for 5/7 High Street in 2017.

Isle of Wight County Press: 5-7 High Street5-7 High Street

Ex-Cllr Curtis did not attend meetings in January or July and made no apologies.

Isle of Wight County Press: Mike Curtis (centre), also known in the village as Captain Stan.Mike Curtis (centre), also known in the village as Captain Stan.

Former Cllr Steane attended the January meeting and gave apologies for the July meeting, which were only noted and not accepted.

Bembridge Parish Council has said it will not be commenting on individual cases, refusing to answer further questions about the situation, but did say all councillors 'were made fully aware' of the implications of the law and that 'the proper officers made every attempt to keep all members within the organisation'.

The clerks of the council said legal advice and clarity was sought from the national and Hampshire-branch of the Association of Local Councils and 'it was made clear' the six-month rule remained relevant.

Other parish and town councils on the Island had agreed to make an exception during the lockdown to avoid councillors being disqualified.

The day after the July meeting, Mr Steane was told he was no longer a councillor as his apologies were not accepted, as required by the wording of the law, leading him to question why his apology was not accepted.

Isle of Wight County Press: Alasdair Steane speaking in 2017.Alasdair Steane speaking in 2017.

He said: "This is yet another nasty and vindictive action by the parish council, and is totally unwarranted. It is appalling and designed purely to remove opposition voices from their elected roles.

"I have always participated fully on behalf of the community despite constant abuse and provocation.

"I will be back and continue to fight the anti-democratic behaviours of this awful council."