PARISH councillors who walked out en masse after a row with their clerk, putting the future of their authority at risk, have walked back again - just hours after the Journal broke the story.

Five of Firsdown’s seven councillors left this week, with four citing differences over procedures as their reason for resigning.

But now, it seems, Melanie Bishop, Brian Edgeley, Helen Edgeley and Paul Hewitt are back.

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

Firsdown Parish Council looked in danger of folding after the spat between councillors, including the chairman and vice-chairman, and the clerk Melanie Thomas.

The structure of parish councils is such they would have had to have held by-elections for all five places, as the two remaining members weren’t enough to be able to co-opt people in.

Brian Edgeley, the former vice-chairman, told the Journal 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.

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

However, now they have.

Wiltshire Council member Chris Devine, who offered his support in solving the issue, said: “Wiltshire Council never actioned the resignations from the councillors.

“Before the council could action them they contacted us saying they wished to withdraw their resignations.”