An Isle of Wight councillor has sought to reassure her constituents she can still serve them, despite splitting her time between the Island and mainland.
Labour member, Cllr Julia Baker-Smith, said spending time with her partner and daughter in Manchester did not affect her ability to serve her ward of Whippingham and Osborne.
She also said she was disappointed she was being asked to explain elements of her life which should remain private.
Residents raised concerns
Her comments followed concerns from a number of residents who questioned her ability to represent them from miles away.
An anonymous party source also said Labour members had complained about her missing party meetings.
Cllr: “Will in no way affect my ability to serve”
But Baker-Smith hit back, stating:
“Like a number of councillors who work on the mainland, I am currently splitting my time between the Island and the mainland.
“My daughter and partner live on the mainland, while my son and mother remain on the Island.
“This will in no way affect my ability to serve my community as I have done in the past and will continue to do so while I hold the office of ward councillor for Whippingham and Osborne.”
Personal life “under constant scrutiny”
The councillor added:
“I am disappointed I am being asked to explain elements of my life that should be personal and private for a role which I have worked so hard within and continue to do so.
“No-one questions the working lives or residential arrangements of the working fathers on the council who own businesses or work on the mainland or abroad.
“As a working mum who juggles the various demands necessary to make ends meet, I am under constant scrutiny in my personal life.
“Being a backbench Isle of Wight councillor comes with an allowance of less than £8,000 a year, and there needs to be an understanding that for non-wealthy working age people to represented, councillors will need to work and that work may not always be available on the Island.”
Local council position ‘untenable
Cllr Baker-Smith has, however, resigned from East Cowes Town Council where, she said, her position had become ‘untenable’.
“I was asked by the town council to prepare a report, which was subsequently ignored, and which, I feel, has adversely affected the management and finances of the town council.
“I am therefore, focussing my energies into my Isle of Wight councillor role, where I feel I can represent the best interests of my ward.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed