THE future of Firsdown Parish Council is in doubt after five of the seven councillors, including the chairman and vice-chairman, resigned - four of them citing differences of opinion with the clerk.

Four of the councillors who have resigned – Melanie Bishop, Brian Edgeley, Helen Edgeley and Paul Hewitt – say “procedural issues” with clerk Melanie Thomas have forced them to step down.

A fifth, Mike Villis, has resigned due to personal issues.

Brian Edgeley, the former vice-chairman, says it was the inflexible approach of Mrs Thomas that led to the mass walk-out.

“I was unable to work with the clerk of the parish council,” Mr Edgeley said.

“We are here to serve the parishioners and she is only interested in procedure.”

Mrs Thomas refused to comment to the Journal on these claims from the former councillors.

This just leaves Cllr Simon Brown and Cllr Len Simcock on the council, and that is not enough members to form a quorum and be able to govern the parish.

Melanie Bishop, the former chairman of the council, said: “It is not enough members to have meetings but we will not be returning to the council.”

This leaves the council in the difficult situation where it is unable to co-opt members due to the lack of councillors.

The council will have to hold fresh by-elections to be able to even have a parish council at all.

The only other option according to local government expert David Kett, would be for the two remaining councillors to hold parish meetings, which would be open to all electors to contribute to.

They would be similar to the annual parish meeting the council is currently obliged to hold once a year.

Although the parish council is separate to Wiltshire Council, Cllr Chris Devine has offered his support in solving the issue.

He said: “If there is any way I can help the council I am more than happy to during this time.”