A Somerset councillor has been given a six month leave of absence due to ill health and a recent bereavement.

Green councillor Helen Kay represents the Frome East division on Somerset Council, which includes the Keyford Meadows housing development and three other significant estates which have been recently given the go-ahead.

Ms Kay – who previously represented the town on Mendip District Council – has been granted a leave of absence by council chief executive Duncan Sharkey, citing “ill health” and the impact of a recent bereavement.

In her absence, all casework will be handled by the other Frome East division member, fellow Green councillor Shane Collins.

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.

Ms Kay’s leave of absence will officially end on September 8, 2024 – though it could be extended if needed.

David Clark, the council’s monitoring officer, confirmed: “Councillor Dave Mansell, the leader of the Green Party group, has requested a six month leave of absence for Councillor Helen Kay on the grounds of ill health. Councillor Kay
has also had a recent close family bereavement.

“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 leader.”

Ms Kay currently serves as a member of the council’s constitution and governance committee and its planning committee east, as well as being part of the Vale of Frome local community network.