We wrote about the recent very menial case of the Ashurst Ward elected member who by her ongoing, six months, absences from council meetings, albeit still receiving allowances, was within hours of being dismissed from elected office.
WLBC decided it needed the advice of counsel rather than a decision of the WLBC lawyers/legal officers. The cost to taxpayers, £800, was for “The statute does not, at least in its terms, allow a retrospective dispensation to be granted, and the point I have noted in para 13 above, it would be advisable for any decision on dispensation to be taken on 15th April 2020, if at all possible” [Backdated, of course].
But evidence emerges [Rotten Boroughs, Private Eye]
that a much simpler solution was available. In Gloucester a Tory councillor stopped attending meetings. At the point of him being kicked out, he was given six months leave of absence from the council, meaning he could be missing without penalty.
Even better, and contrary to the rules, he continued to trouser his £5,944 annual allowance for ten months. Had he been turfed out the Tory group with its wafer thin majority may have lost control. But now there can be no elections the status quo would prevail. So he has resigned.
Nice to know the system always helps politicians while discarding the rights of taxpayers to dump absentees on the make! As the Eye says, deaf ears have been turned to calls that the money-for-nothing allowances should be returned.
Dispensation, leave of absence, call it what you like. But Gloucester council didn’t pay £800 to counsel to make that decision. The West Lancashire Labour and Tory parties should now make donations of £400 each to the WLBC, or if, that isn’t possible, to charities within the borough. Tomorrow would be good!