Isle of Wight Councillors surveyed on how much time they spend on the Island. Here are the results

Questions of how much time some councillors spend on the Isle of Wight have been rumbling for months. They’ve all now been surveyed. Find out how your representative responded.

Chris Whitehouse quote

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.

Refused to answer
Two refused to answer — Cllr Clare Mosdell, a director of an electrical company, and Cllr Chris Whitehouse, who runs a consultancy firm in London.

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.

What your councillor said
See what your councillor had to say — and how many meetings they missed in 2018 — below:

Click on the image to see larger version, step through by clicking on the arrows.

Cllr AbrahamWootton BridgeConI 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 AndreSandown NorthIndDid not reply
Cllr AxfordRyde North WestConI 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-SmithWhippingham and OsborneLabI do not feel that I need to justify my whereabouts as I work hard for my residents and have a good attendance record.
Cllr BarryNettlestone and SeaviewLibDemDid not reply
Cllr BertieCowes NorthConDid not reply
Cllr BestonShanklin CentralConDid not reply
Cllr BradingLake SouthConDid not reply
Cllr BrodieNewport EastInd LabI 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 CameronFreshwater NorthConAs 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 ChapmanRyde SouthConDid not reply
Cllr ChurchmanHavenstreet, Ashey and HaylandsConDid not reply
Cllr DownerGodshill and WroxallIndMy 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 FullerCowes West and GurnardIndI 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 GarrattParkhurstLibDemI 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 HastingsCentral WightConI 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 HobartCarisbrookeConI 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 HoweTotlandIndDid not reply
Cllr HutchinsonWest WightCon"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-EvansNewport CentralIndI live on the Island and spend 90 per cent of my time here.
Cllr KilpatrickBinstead and FishbourneConIf 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 LilleyRyde EastInd GreenI 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 LoveEast CowesIndI 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 MedlandFreshwater SouthIndI 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 MosdellArreton and NewchurchConDeclined to answer.
My attendance at meetings is a matter of public record.
Cllr MurwillBrading, St Helens and BembridgeConDid not reply
Cllr NicholsonCowes South and NorthwoodConDid not reply
Cllr OutlawLake NorthConI 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 PeaceVentnor WestConI 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-WilcoxCowes MedinaIndI 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 PerksVentnor EastConDid not reply
Cllr PriceNewport NorthConDid not reply
Cllr QuirkShanklin SouthConI 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 SmartNewport SouthIndDid not reply
Cllr StephensRyde WestIndI 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 StewartChale, Niton and WhitwellConDid not reply
Cllr TyndallBrading, St Helens and BembridgeConDid not reply
Cllr WardSandown SouthConDid not reply
Cllr WhitehouseNewport WestConI have absolutely no intention of dignifying this prurient and impudent question with any substantive response.
Cllr WhittleRyde North EastConDid 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

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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14 Comments on "Isle of Wight Councillors surveyed on how much time they spend on the Island. Here are the results"

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Lots of pensioners don’t have internet access. If a politician doesn’t spend at least a few days a week on the island, how can they know what’s going on? Obviously there is the telephone, but having surgeries and meeting people out and about is an important part of the job. For all councillors who refused to answer or whose response didn’t answer the question sound too defensive… Read more »
Good question and congratulations to Councillors who responded. As there may be good reasons for not responding we have to be carefully about reading too much into that. BUT Chris Whitehouse’s (Conservative) response is breath taking in its arrogance and aggressiveness. Given his partisan and dismissive approach in the Council Chamber it is no surprise. Perhaps he spent too long in Westminster being self important? PS Now… Read more »
Anyone claiming the basic £7,700 allowance should be obligated to attend all requisite Council meetings IMO & should also be holding regular constituents’ surgeries; if not, they are failing to fulfil their oficial remit & are simply milking the “status” of being a councillor. It seems that several of the councillors listed both epitomise & represent the more affluent, second home-owning, part-time IOW residents as opposed to… Read more »
Who did the asking? I despair at the inward looking, isolationist nature of the questions here. A bizarre witch hunt for those who are off the island too much. It would be inconceivable in Hampshire to ask if/when/for how long people went out of the county. Councillors should be available to constituents, but that doesn’t mean 24hrs a day 365 days a year. They should understand their… Read more »
Sally Perry

It’s a perfectly reasonable question (asked by Megan the LDR) as a follow on from the criticism placed against one cllr choosing to live between the Island and Manchester.

Calling it a ‘witch hunt’ is a tad over the top. It’s about providing balance. It’s a shame certain councillors chose not to reply or refused to answer.


What was the ‘prurient’ nature of Megan’s question to which Cllr Whitehouse took exception?

Mark L Francis

Prurient (online dictionary)- adj.”having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters, especially the sexual activity of others.
“she’d been the subject of much prurient curiosity”
synonyms: salacious, licentious, voyeuristic, lascivious, lecherous, lustful, lewd, libidinous, lubricious; ” – I think we should be told…

Sally Perry

@ Confidential – there wasn’t one, I think Cllr Whitehouse is confused

Sally, you know I think you do a great job for OTW, but on this I think we’re going to disagree. It is a witch hunt in so far as people are calling for someone to step down because they spend time off the island which I think is too much. If people are severely impacted by living away, illness, personal crises for an long chunk of… Read more »
Sally Perry
I think you misunderstand the reason for the question being posed to all cllrs (or maybe I do?). My reading of it is that one councillor has come under a lot of criticism and scrutiny from her colleagues and residents for choosing to split her time between here and elsewhere, but there are other councillors who, for whatever reason, also spend a lot of time off the… Read more »
Geoff Brodie
In my quite long experience residents don’t want formal surgeries. Just the ability to meet with their councillor face to face when necessary. In my first couple of years I spent many a wasted hour hoping people would come and talk to me at my well-advertised surgeries. Provided they know how to contact you, easy contact shouldn’t be a problem. My details are on all noticeboards in… Read more »
Sally Perry

Point taken Geoff. I guess open lines of communication is what’s key here (and I recognise that you are one of the very active cllrs). Emailing/calling/writing a councillor and not getting a reply is very frustrating.

Geoff Brodie
Agreed. And your neck of the woods seems to have two of the most detached councillors. Being elected involves not only representing your residents, but also taking part in the overall governance of the Council, whether in power or in opposition (my personal default). The figures in the article don’t always say how many meetings each could have attended, but in my view if you are not… Read more »

The difficulty is when councillors don’t really live on the island and aren’t available for face-to-face communications (never mind those who also don’t answer emails, phone calls, or post). A few councillors do spend a large majority of their time not on the island. Obviously councillors don’t have to work on the island, but they do need to live here properly.