Monday, September 15, 2008

Can you be a London Councillor whilst living in Australia?

Last week, a Liberal Democrat on Camden Council had to resign after it was discovered that he had buggered off to Arizona, 5,200 miles away, and was still claiming his £700 per month allowance to represent his constituents. The official line was he was experimenting to see if it was still possible to do the work.

I mention this because allegedly a councillor in Greenwich (where I currently live) has been living in Australia for the past few months whilst still collecting an allowance and special pay for failing to attend committees. It's also been alleged that the councillor has hurriedly flown back to the UK.

It's also alleged that the return to Blighty for a conveniently timed emergency full council meeting which would mean the coucnillor achieved the minimum "one meeting in six month" rule. This would, so my source tells me, avoid a resignation and an unwanted by-election in the councillor's marginal Shooters Hill ward.

If the allegations are true, I imagine the local MP, Clive Efford, will not be best pleased. He needs to keep his vote in the ward to stand a chance of holding the constituency seat in Parliament.
Update: It appears the Last Boy Scout blog has a source too. Kudos to him for posting first.

14 comments:

ianvisits said...

Fenland District Council in Cambridgeshire also allowed a member of staff to move to Australia while still working for them.

Is there something about working for the local council which drives people to emigrate?

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23532767-details/Council+worker+emigrates+10,000+miles+to+Australia...+but+keeps+his+job+in+Cambridgeshire/article.do

Blue Eyes said...

I thought that to *stand* you had to live in the borough. I think if you move away a motion can be brought to force a by election.

Half The Story said...

Name names Dizzy..........

dizzy said...

Waiting for comment.

J J said...

Unfortunately I also live in the peoples republic of Greenwich.
And for my sins, I am in the Shooters Hill ward.
I notice from the council website that there are no surgery times for Danny Thorpe.
Is this relevant?

Anonymous said...

Blue Eyes said...
I thought that to *stand* you had to live in the borough. I think if you move away a motion can be brought to force a by election.

You either have to live, work or own property in the borough to be able to stand. Already being a councillor constitutes working in the borough.

If you fail to attend a council meeting in more than 6 months, you can be removed as a councillor (but it only needs to be one meeting every six months).

Fergus

Paul Webbewood said...

Councillor Danny Thorpe (Labour Shooters Hill ward) last attended a meeting on 27th March. I understand that he last received his allowance in April. He failed to attend a Scrutiny Panel of which he is a member last week.

When the Council's programme of meetings for 2008-09 was drawn up there were no meetings of Full Council scheduled between late July and late October. However a Special Council meeting has been called for tomorrow so that we can consider the Council's Community Safety Plan.

Watch this space.

Paul Webbewood said...

Councillor Thorpe attended last night's meeting and so has escaped disqualification. He offered no explanation for his absence and gave no indication of his future plans.

When asked about Dodgy Danny's attendance record Chris Roberts (Council Leader) said "The rules for non-attendance at Council meetings are set out very clearly for all Members in statute. I am not aware of any member being in breach of them.

J J said...

So that's alright then!

Shooters Hill voters now have three councillors again.

How long for?

Anonymous said...

So if there are statutory rules that say the minimum work a councillor has to do and they are being filled then what is the problem?

I live in the Shooters Hill ward and as far as I am concerned there is always a Councillor available if I need them and that is the main thing.

As a voter I understand that my local councillors also have their own lives and are entitled to holidays and breaks just as much as the next person.

Sounds like the only people that are really concerned as those that were not voted in themselves!!!

J J said...

If all councillors only attend one meeting every six months that will be alright then, will it?
Are they still paid the full amount?

If a councillor has had health problems, or other personal problems then I can understand they cannot attend meetings.
However, if these problems are ongoing the councillor should resign. (If two councillors can manage the full workload for Shooters Hill ward, then we don't need Mr Thorpe anyway).

To just turn up after six months without so much as an explanation or apology seems to show contempt for the ratepayers.

Maybe anonymous would like to tell us if he/she works for Greenwich Council and is just trotting out the party line.
Or maybe you are Danny Thorpe?

What a hypocrite said...

As Lib Dem Councillor Paul Webbewood pointed out this blog contains a blatant lie.

The Labour Councillor in question didn't claim any expenses whilst he was away in Australia.

So what's all the fuss about.

There are two other councillors in that ward that can represent local residents.

If you dont think councillors should be allowed lives outside politics and should be forced to live within their ward boundaries 24/7 - vote Danny Thorpe out at the next election.

Otherwise lets get a reality check please.

And what hypocrites the Tories in Greenwich are being on this matter. Did not one of their own Councillors move his family out to America to live, having got a job there, in the last few years. Did he resign straight away? Did he hell.

Did he continue to claim expenses? Perhaps they would like to come clean or maybe Cllr Webbewood could find out and let us know...

Paul Webbewood said...

It happened before I joined the Council but Tory Councillor Douglas Ellison resigned after relocating to the USA.

Of course councillors are entitled to holidays and breaks but five months!

Danny's decision to stop receiving his allowance shows that he retains some integrity, but is surely only mitigation rather than justification.

It looks like that avoiding a difficult by-election was a higher priority than doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

If i were a resident of Shooters Hill ward i wouldn't be happy about one of my representatives having a 6 month holiday. It's the kind of thing we expect from the Tories.