Expat councillor claims he is good value for money

Brian Riley
Brian Riley

A county councillor who kept his seat and a £10,000 allowance despite moving to America returned to the UK to hold a surgery - which only one person attended.

Brian Riley, 71, outraged officials and residents by moving 4,000 miles away from his Suffolk County Council ward in Hadleigh, Suffolk, to Raleigh, North Carolina, in April.

Mr Riley, argued he could complete all of his duties via Skype, email and phone.

He lost the Conservative whip and came under pressure to resign, but refused and became an independent.

He returned to Hadleigh this week to hold a surgery for residents - but only one woman turned up.

He said: “The surgery provides another avenue for people to be in touch and if people aren’t here it suggests they are already in touch.

“£10,000-a-year is good value for what you get from me.

“And what you get from me for your £10,000 is my knowledge, my connectivity, my willingness to go the extra mile for you and to see what you need and see how we can get it.”

Mr Riley, who claims an annual allowance of £10,273 was elected two years ago and can remain as a councillor as long he attends one meeting every six months.

He will serve until 2017 when he plans to step down, though he would not be allowed to stand in 2017 unless he is a full-time UK resident.

Colin Noble, leader of Suffolk County Council, made his feelings on the matter clear.

He said: “He is an independent councillor now. He has made the decision he has made. I disagree with it.

“I think you have to actually live within your community, go to the shops in your community, go to the pub in your community.

“I think you should be part of your community if you are going to represent it well.

“I don’t believe you can represent your community thousands of miles away, by using technology.”