A PARISH council near York has been operating “illegally” for almost two years, it has emerged.

The ten members of Escrick Parish Council have been temporarily replaced by a quorum of district councillors, following a technical error which calls for a fresh election.

Once elected to office, parish councillors are required to sign a declaration of acceptance of office form, within a certain time. However, it recently became apparent that the ten parish councillors at Escrick failed to do so within the alloted period.

Councillors Elizabeth Casling, Ian Reynolds, John Cattanach and Keith Ellis have been parachuted in to oversee the formation of a new parish council, with an election due on March 28.

Coun Casling said: “The first role of parish councillors should have been to sign this document, and unfortunately that wasn’t done.

“What has occurred is the parish council has been deemed to be operating illegally since 2011, so the chief executive of Selby District Council has co-opted us and given us powers over the parish council to oversee the election there and get the parish council back together again.”

The councillors have gone back through the minutes of every parish council meeting since 2011 to confirm them as true and correct records.

Sixteen people have put their names forward as candidates for the new election which will be held on March 28 at the cost of the parish council.

Coun Casling said: “Escrick is only a small parish council, so the big issue is that out of the precept of £11,000, the election will cost £2,000, which is something that we would wish to avoid if possible.

“I believe strongly it should have been picked up earlier. It’s an awful lot of fuss for something that could have been easily avoided and a shame for the village as unnecessary cost, but something has to be done to rectify it.”