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Thanet councillor resigns after moving 500 miles away to France, where he is now 'stuck'

A Kent councillor who attended meetings via Zoom from his new home in France has resigned after failing to publicly declare he had moved.

Former Thanet Green Party representative Trevor Roper was accused of deceiving constituents after it emerged that despite his cross-Channel relocation last year, the council's website continued to show him living in Minster.

Trevor Roper has resigned from his councillor role
Trevor Roper has resigned from his councillor role

Mr Roper even claimed to still be living at the address in a letter sent to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about a planning application - despite having sold the Grade II-listed house 14 months prior.

He has now resigned after admitting he made the "novice councillor mistake" of failing to revise his address on the council's members' interests site.

Despite standing down from his role as a councillor in the Thanet Villages ward, the 70-year-old has been publicly backed by the Green Party.

He says he is "stuck" in France due to Covid restrictions and cannot make a return to Kent.

It is thought the former teacher is now residing in the village of Fontenille-Saint Martin-D'Entraigues, near Cognac in western France.

Mr Roper represented Thanet Villages on the district council
Mr Roper represented Thanet Villages on the district council

Writing on Facebook on Monday, Mr Roper said: "I have today sent in my resignation as a TDC (Thanet District Council) councillor.

"This has become inevitable as after my wife and I bought a house in France last year and have become stuck here due to the Covid restrictions."

France is currently on the amber list of travel restrictions. This means fully-vaccinated people coming to England need to take a Covid test on or before day two of arriving. Those who are not fully vaccinated have to isolate for 10 days.

But Mr Roper added: "We had hoped to return frequently to continue with my councillor duties, but now feel that this is impractical.

"I feel very proud to have been one of the first Green Party councillors at TDC."

'My wife and I bought a house in France last year and have become stuck here due to the Covid restrictions...'

Mr Roper was accused of "deceiving his constituents into believing he was still living locally", but his party came to his defence in a public statement last week.

"After selling their house in Minster last year, Cllr Roper and his wife Karen rented in Ramsgate for a few months and later stayed with relatives in Maidstone," the statement read.

"During this time he continued with his council duties as usual, including attending many parish council meetings in his Thanet Villages ward, for which he has chalked up nearly 100% attendance since his election in 2019.

"When travel was allowed again, the Ropers went to France to realise their retirement dream of buying a French property – only to find themselves stuck there by increasingly restrictive Covid rules and trouble obtaining vaccinations.

"Cllr Roper continued to attend online meetings and undertake other duties from a distance, but could not leave France – so since physical meetings restarted in May, he has been unable to attend."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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