I want to carry on as local councillor in France

A local councillor who faces losing her post after Brexit is disappointed at the slow progress of her French citizenship application – an issue affecting hundreds of Britons.

1 May 2019
By Connexion journalist

Some 900 Britons sit on mairie councils but those with only UK nationality will be unable to stand at the local elections next spring as they are restricted to French and EU nationals.

Karen Blakemore has been a councillor for Saint-Merd-de-Lapleau, a commune in Corrèze of around 200 residents, since 2014.

She told Connexion last year that she had enjoyed the chance to be involved with projects such as naming local roads and allocating house numbers ready for fibre optic internet to come.

She applied for French nationality last October and hopes to stand again in 2020 but has had no feedback from her prefecture – just a slip from the post office to show her application was delivered. “We’re waiting with bated breath,” she said.

“I don’t know how many British councillors have ap­plied, but if we’re all in the same boat and we don’t know if we’ll be accepted as a French national or not before March, we can’t put ourselves forward for the elections.

“Plus, there may be hundreds more who would have liked to stand for the first time and whose dossiers are also just sitting there.”

Mrs Blakemore added: “When the future mayor puts together their list, you have to be French or an EU national. They will start to gather names later this year.”

She said this year they will see through the naming and numbering. “Every little path and building has had to be done and we’ve used historic names – for example, we’ve named the main street after our patron saint.

“I’m hoping to take the experience gained over the last six years into the new team, but who knows?”

She was asked to do checks on the electoral list before the EU elections. “It’s kind of rubbing salt in the wounds that I may be able to take part this time, but not be an EU citizen much longer after that. I realised I know everyone in the commune now.”

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