Isle of Wight councillors who claim their allowance but only show up at key meetings have been criticised by a senior cabinet member.
A report, discussed at last night’s (Wednesday) full council meeting, revealed there were vacancies on all but two council committees.
There are currently 13 vacancies across all ten committees — and nine of the vacancies must be filled by Conservative councillors.
Brading: “Everyone is paid the same allowance”
Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Paul Brading, criticised his Conservative colleagues.
“When I first read this paper, I was totally embarrassed. It does not look right. We have 25 people this side of the chamber and we cannot fill all our seats on committees.
“I accept people work and that is absolutely right, but there are people who still find the time to attend meetings.
“It is annoying because everyone is paid the same allowance — some members are here three or four days a week and they get the same allowance as everyone else.
“It really is down to group leaders to get their numbers to come aboard.”
Some committee seats have been empty for more than a year.
Barry: Not missed full council meeting since 1993
Lib Dem Cllr Reg Barry, who sits on four committees, was told he could be taken off the planning committee after ten years in the role — due to a reallocation of seats among party groups.
He could be replaced by Independent Network Cllr Ian Stephens.
Cllr Barry said:
“I have always found the time that was expected of me and then suddenly I pick up this paper and see I am no longer on planning.
“This doesn’t show the Conservative group in very good light, does it? They are obviously not doing what they have been elected to do.
“I have been here since 1993 and I have never missed full council — we’ve got somebody who has just been elected recently who hasn’t shown up.”
However, any decision on reallocating committee seats has yet to be made — because the report was withdrawn.
Stewart: “Have not got this right”
Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart admitted:
“Clearly, we have not got this right.”
Mosdell: “My partner thinks I live at County Hall”
Conservative Cllr Clare Mosdell said:
“There are lots of people in this chamber who, if they put their hands on their hearts, really do not sit on enough committees.
“My partner thinks I live at County Hall — it shouldn’t be like that.”
Some councillors felt the criticism was too harsh.
Jones-Evans: “We need to be supportive of each other”
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans said:
“I am hearing a lot of judgemental comments about people not pulling their weight — you do not know what goes on in people’s lives.
“I am a single mother. I have a shop, open from 9am to 5.30pm, and yes, I came in late today, but I closed my shop early. I lost out on trade so I could get here.
“We are a cross-section of the whole Island here and we need to be supportive of each other.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed