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Ealing and Northfield

The councillors we pay not to turn up

The council has just published the attendance records for councillors for the last municipal year.

Councillor attendance

Five councillors failed to attend at least 2/3rds of the meetings set for them. We can forgive Cllr Aslam as he was the Mayor last year and attended all council meetings to act as the impartial chairman of the meeting but, didn’t attend any of his ward forums, as is usual because the Mayor takes a year off from being a regular councillor and avoids political meetings, even ward forums.

The other four have no such excuse.

Wendy Langan The worst offender is Labour councillor for Hobbayne ward Wendy Langan. She has only turned up 7 times in a municipal year and has made no other contribution to the life of our Borough. She has regrettably claimed a full back bench allowance of £9,612. Hanwell residents will be unimpressed with Langan claiming £1,373 per meeting.

It may be that she is ill, in which case that is a shame but she might have explained herself and maybe resigned if she was incapable of doing the job she was elected to do. Her fellow ward councillor Colm Costello is not impressed.

Atallah SaidThe percentage figures flatter East Acton Labour councillor Atallah Said. He too has only done 7 meetings but as he was only asked to attend 11 all year he doesn’t look quite so bad. He failed to attend half the council meetings so only managed 64% attendance.

This is not a new thing. Last year Said had the worst attendance. He only attended 8 out of 14 meetings (57%). This was by far the worst attendance record of anyone on the council. The first year that Said was a councillor, in his first flush of enthusiasm, he managed 19 out of 33 meetings (58%) and was also the worst attender.

Acton residents won’t be pleased that this man is drawing an allowance of £9,612 to go to 7 meetings. Again, the man makes no other visible contribution to the life of the Borough. £1,373 per meeting.

Benjamin DennenyBenjamin Dennehy, now UKIP councillor for Hanger Hill ward, has only attended one more meeting than the laggards Langan and Said.

The contrast with his notably hard working ward colleagues could not be starker. Dennehy costs £1,181 per meeting.

Edward RennieFinally there is one of Perivale’s Labour councillors, Edward Rennie. He disappeared for 4 and a half months last year. He turned up to a scrutiny meeting on 27th September and then came back on 13th February. It was rumoured that he had gone to Bangalore in India to train as a priest. All very nice but not whilst you are serving as a councillor.

It seems that Rennie has not been paid or has not claimed for two months of his allowance so he has only had £8,010 out of the £9,616 back benchers usually get. That is the equivalent of two months money not over four. There was talk of Rennie giving some cash to his ward forum fund. I have seen no evidence of this. Maybe this was a less embarrassing way for him to make partial amends for his extended absence. Maybe someone can tell us? Still he has been clocking up £400.50 per meeting.

What all four of these councillors have in common is that they are new councillors who were only elected in 2010. Being a councillor is very demanding in terms of time and emotional energy. Four years can be a very long time if you are not motivated. That is no excuse though. Residents are entitled to expect their councillors to work hard for them.

2 replies on “The councillors we pay not to turn up”

I’m not convinced we should be paying Councillors for turning up to meetings.

Surely if we are to judge their performance and their remuneration it should be on the extent to which they have helped and are helping their constituents. I have watched many a Council meeting attended by Councillors at which the majority of them made no contribution to the meetings’ proceedings at all.

Cynics will say that most decisions and most strategy setting is carried out by Council Officers and not by elected Councillor Members.

Eric,

You are right of course but if people can’t even turn up you have to figure that they are not doing much else either. The attendance is at least transparent which is why I raise it. Do you see or hear much from Cllrs Langan, Said, Dennehy and Rennie?

A lot of council business is uncontroversial and it is quite sensible for councillors to oversee with a light touch. The current Labour administration has misjudged quite a few officer driven decisions though:

– closure of day centres: officers kept bringing these up when we were in power. We said no. Labour said yes. Nice capital receipt.

– library consultation: again the officers always saw closing libraries as a good option. We always said no. Labour got talked into a consultation that did it huge damage.

– parking charges: again officers think this is an easy saving. We froze for four years.

– garden tax: making re-cycling harder and more expensive. Another officer idea.

– £2 million Town Hall gold plating project: another great officer led project. We said do rest of town centre first. Do Town Hall last.

– leaving senior management team largely intact: self-protection.

– maintaining terms and conditions of employment: 35 hour work weeks and 27 days holiday when you start, going up to 33.

Shall I go on?

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