How much time do Isle of Wight councillors actually spend on the Isle of Wight?
Last week, Cllr Julia Baker-Smith, member for Whippingham and Osborne, was criticised for splitting her time between Manchester and the Isle of Wight.
In the last year, Cllr Baker-Smith has missed two full council meetings and one meeting of the appeals sub committee.
Breakdown of time spent off Island
All Isle of Wight councillors were asked how much time they spend on the Isle of Wight — if it varies from month to month, they were asked to give a breakdown of time spent off the Island in October and November last year, or if they spend a large period of timing living abroad (see below for how your councillor replied).
Out of 40 councillors, 17 did not reply to requests for comment.
The council’s monitoring officer, Helen Miles, also told members the information was ‘over and above what is already available about you’.
In an e-mail to all councillors, Ms Miles said:
“Whilst it is of course entirely a matter for each of you to decide how to respond, I would advise that you may well decide the information sought is over and above that which is already available about you.
“Your register of interests, which is available on the Website sets out your address on the Island, and we publish on the Website your attendance at meetings.”
No reply from Leader
Leader of the council, Cllr Dave Stewart, did not reply.
However, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Resources, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson — who has missed no meetings in the last year — said:
“Time spent off Island is less relevant than the amount of hours put in and regular attendance at the committees one is scheduled for.
“Because of e-mail and Skype, it is perfectly possible to do a good job as councillor without being physically present for large chunks of time.”
Highest non-attendance records
In 2018, the councillor with the highest non-attendance record at meetings was Cllr Gary Peace, who missed 54 per cent of required meetings (six out of 11).
Cllr Peace said:
“I stepped away from my cabinet role due to work and family commitments, and because I was not able to give it my full attention.”
Cllr Peace is a security consultant, and runs a hair salon in Ventnor with his wife.
Cllr John Kilpatrick and Cllr Karl Love had the second worst attendance records, having missed 25 per cent of required meetings.
Click on the image to see larger version, step through by clicking on the arrows.
|Cllr Abraham||Wootton Bridge||Con||I live on the Island and have, all my life in fact, I live not far from the house I was born in.
I have been off the Island once on Council business in December. I do not have property off the Island. My business is in Wootton Bridge
When I go off the island it is for private reasons usually to the theatre.
I have a close family member from the island who has been in intensive care in St Thomas London for the last 8 weeks and continues to be so, I visit him regularly, I mention this in case people see me on the Cat and think I am on a Council jolly.”
|Cllr Andre||Sandown North||Ind||Did not reply|
|Cllr Axford||Ryde North West||Con||I am retired and live in Ryde.
I very rarely leave the Island, except for maybe a week's summer holiday.
About once every three months I go to London for the day on Council (Pension Fund) business.
|Cllr Baker-Smith||Whippingham and Osborne||Lab||I do not feel that I need to justify my whereabouts as I work hard for my residents and have a good attendance record.|
|Cllr Barry||Nettlestone and Seaview||LibDem||Did not reply|
|Cllr Bertie||Cowes North||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Beston||Shanklin Central||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Brading||Lake South||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Brodie||Newport East||Ind Lab||I left for one weekend night in October visiting family in Hampshire
Four nights (including a weekend) in November visiting friends and family and none away in December.
I am retired from work so have more freedom, though being a councillor and chair of Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council adds up to almost a full-time job for me. I couldn't do it properly without being here at least 90 per cent of the time. I need to see people personally and walk/cycle my ward/town regularly. Indeed, I worry when I am away!
|Cllr Cameron||Freshwater North||Con||As vice chair for the Isle of Wight I have been to the mainland six times last year.
All these trips was paid for by myself and not a penny was claimed from the council although I was on official business and representing the Island. I have not been away for any other council business and apart from my one week’s holiday personally I have been away three times and this was for daily shopping trips to Southampton.
|Cllr Chapman||Ryde South||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Churchman||Havenstreet, Ashey and Haylands||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Downer||Godshill and Wroxall||Ind||My wife and I live in Wroxall and have done so since 1983 when we were married. Previous to this I lived and grew up in Whitwell just over the hill.
I spend the all my time here. In October I had four days in Suffolk to take my wife to her sister's and to do some church bell ringing. On both these occasions I took my council iPad with me.
So, this was a personal visit but as usual was contactable by email and phone. In November I was on the Island for all of the month.
|Cllr Fuller||Cowes West and Gurnard||Ind||I am rarely away from the Island. This occurs generally only at weekends, or when I am on annual leave.
At all times I am accessible by phone or email.
Since 2017 I have taken 18 days holiday — including Saturdays and and weekends on the mainland and abroad.
|Cllr Garratt||Parkhurst||LibDem||I have lived on the Island for nearly 12 years.
Since my election as a councillor (May 2017) I have made two trips to the mainland on council business — a training day on chairing scrutiny run by the Centre for Public Scrutiny, and a joint one-day conference.
I am happy to say that the vast majority of my time is spent on the Island. Even when off-Island, I will usually take my council iPad so that I can respond to emails while away. Otherwise, I will set an out-of-office response indicating that I will respond as soon as possible.
|Cllr Hastings||Central Wight||Con||I don’t feel that I have to justify my whereabouts at any given time of the day, week or month as long as I am dealing promptly with my residents issues and attending meetings of which I think I am on more than any other councillor — plus attending parish council meetings of which I have four plus being a Newport parish Councillor also.
I live full time in my ward and since being elected have only left the Island once alongside Cllr Hobart on a visit to Dorset County Council.
I have not left the Island for a holiday or any leisure purposes since being elected.
|Cllr Hobart||Carisbrooke||Con||I live 100 per cent on the Island and have left it for a couple of one-day personal visits during 2018 and possibly half a dozen, or thereabouts, council visits for meetings that I am expected to attend (London, Havant, Worthing, Blandford and Poole).
I have travelled extensively in my youth so have no desire to travel abroad, let alone live abroad. I love the Island.
|Cllr Howe||Totland||Ind||Did not reply|
|Cllr Hutchinson||West Wight||Con||"Time spent on or off the Island is less relevant than the number of hours put in and regular attendance at the committees one is scheduled for. Because of email and skype, it is perfectly possible to do a good job as a councillor without being physically present for large chunks of the time.
I live on the Island all year, so for most months I’m here for 100 per cent of the time. I only take time away for holidays or for trips to conferences or London in connection with my council work. Since becoming a councillor I have averaged about 3 weeks holiday a year.
Council work, for the three jobs I have, occupies 30 to 50 hours each week depending on the time of year.
|Cllr Jones-Evans||Newport Central||Ind||I live on the Island and spend 90 per cent of my time here.|
|Cllr Kilpatrick||Binstead and Fishbourne||Con||If you check my council website page you can see I sit on five different committees — audit, planning, licensing, scrutiny and I chair the appeals committee, so I am kept quite busy.
I can also confirm I was off the Island for nine days in October and November visiting children and grandchildren.
|Cllr Lilley||Ryde East||Ind Green||I live on the Island.
In October I went off Island four times — two meetings on council business, to conferences and training at the LGA, visiting grandchildren and a family funeral.
This is where I live and will die.
|Cllr Love||East Cowes||Ind||I live entirely on the island and only venture off occasionally to visit family or holiday.
I try not to miss meetings and engage with others that are not a requirement, but I’m interested in and care about.
It’s not just about attending meetings but actually being available in person to residents and to interact in local issues and meetings. I don’t always sign attendance sheets so the council record might not reflect my actual attendance and I often attend meeting like adult social care and join meetings of East/West Cowes and residents’ meetings.
|Cllr Medland||Freshwater South||Ind||I spend about a day a week currently working with a UK charity.
This takes me to the mainland about five or six weekends a year including the Friday.
|Cllr Mosdell||Arreton and Newchurch||Con||Declined to answer.
My attendance at meetings is a matter of public record.
|Cllr Murwill||Brading, St Helens and Bembridge||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Nicholson||Cowes South and Northwood||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Outlaw||Lake North||Con||I am off the island quite rarely.
I live 100 per cent of the time in Lake. I work on the island and occasionally have to travel to Herefordshire to attend meetings at head office.
I have no holiday home and have had one six-day holiday since I became a councillor. I use the vast majority of my holiday entitlement on council work — 17 days in 2017, 14 in 2018 and two out of two so far in 2019.
|Cllr Peace||Ventnor West||Con||I stepped away from my cabinet role due to work and family commitments, and because I was not able to give it my full attention.”|
|Cllr Peacey-Wilcox||Cowes Medina||Ind||I live on the Island and am here almost every day unless for council business.
I usually have one holiday for ten days each year. I may go off on the odd weekend for an anniversary.
At all times I have the internet and do emails daily.
|Cllr Perks||Ventnor East||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Price||Newport North||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Quirk||Shanklin South||Con||I live in my Ward, have done so for the last 15 years.
I am retired so have no ongoing work commitments off Island, although I do have family and friends on the North Island that my wife and I regularly visit. We also take holidays off of the Island, and I go to a Scout Camp with my Grandchildren most years.
I spend a few days a year off Island on Political or lobbying activities, entirely at my own expense.
|Cllr Smart||Newport South||Ind||Did not reply|
|Cllr Stephens||Ryde West||Ind||I take approximately four days a month to work as the chair of the LGA Fire Service Management.
I have taken no holidays over the last 18 months, only a trip to Ireland and a two-day weekend trip to Bristol prior to Christmas.
I always take my iPad and mobile phone, which gives me full connectivity with my residents.
I work as required on Saturdays and Sundays, with no limits on evening work.
|Cllr Stewart||Chale, Niton and Whitwell||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Tyndall||Brading, St Helens and Bembridge||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Ward||Sandown South||Con||Did not reply|
|Cllr Whitehouse||Newport West||Con||I have absolutely no intention of dignifying this prurient and impudent question with any substantive response.|
|Cllr Whittle||Ryde North East||Con||Did not reply|
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