A SOMERSET councillor has been given a six month leave of absence due to ill health.

Christine Lawrence represents the Dunster division on Somerset Council, which includes the eponymous village and numerous other rural settlements between Minehead and the Quantock Hills area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Mrs Lawrence – who previously represented the same area on Somerset County Council – has been granted a leave of absence by council chief executive Duncan Sharkey, citing “ill health”.

During her absence, all casework will be handled by the other Dunster division member, Liberal Democrat councillor Marcus Kravis.

Under the council’s constitution, any councillor who had failed to attend any public meetings for six months will cease to be a councillor, resulting in a by-election.

However, dispensations can be made by the chief executive if a councillor is ill or otherwise temporarily indisposed.

Mrs Lawrence’s leave of absence will officially end on March 3, 2024 – though it could be extended if needed.

David Clark, the council’s monitoring officer, confirmed: “Councillor David Fothergill, the leader of the opposition, has requested a six month leave of absence for Councillor Christine Lawrence on ill health grounds.

“During the period of absence any enquiries from residents and parish or town councils that the councillor represents will be covered by the other divisional member in the electoral division concerned, with further support offered by the relevant political group.”

Mrs Lawrence currently serves as a member of the council’s constitution and governance committee and its adults and health scrutiny committee, as well as being part of the Minehead and Watchet local community network.