Letter: How can your councillor represent you if they leave meetings early?

During Wednesday’s full council meeting, several councillors upped and left before the end of the meeting, missing an important vote on how the council handles applications for fracking on the Isle of Wight. One reader was disgusted enough at their actions that she’s shared the letter she sent them the next day.

Empty seats :

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from Kay Smith. Ed


On Wednesday night I attended the Full Council Meeting at County Hall (see OnTheWight’s live coverage here. Ed).

On a very good note, a motion was passed to tighten up the planning process to make it more robust regarding the issue of fracking on the Isle of Wight. But most importantly to stop the erosion of democracy even more by allowing this Government to railroad through local decision making.

Did you councillor leave early?
However, I was astounded by those elected councillors that decided to leave the meeting before its scheduled end. How can this be OK? If any of these people are your councillors does this not concern you?

It is important to point out that Cllrs Hillard, Lumley, Stubbings, Bacon, all made their feeling known that this is unacceptable and leaving meetings should be public knowledge and I believe Cllr Baker-Smith made a good comment about reading given information before attending a meeting, so that you can be informed about what you are discussing during it. Not an exhaustive list of shared concerns I am sure, but the vocal ones I observed.

The email (below) has now gone to Cllrs Richard Priest, Julie Jones-Evans, Bob Blezzard, Chris Whitehouse, Jon Gilbey and Wayne Whittle. Cllr Richards could have stayed on this occasion, but declared an interest. I await the responses.

The email

Dear all,

Last night I attended the Full Council meeting and watched from the public gallery. There are some really grave issues for the council to be tackling as you all know and issues that concern ALL of the residents living on our Island.

As someone who values democracy greatly I would hope that you do too. But last night I was astounded that elected representatives for people on this Island thought it was ‘OK’ to leave a meeting before its scheduled end (6pm-9pm).

The majority of you left at 8.45pm and before the fracking motion was discussed.

Cllrs Whitehouse and Whittle had left even before that. Not only did you miss an important discussion, an opportunity to see what others had to say, be educated on an issue that maybe some of you are not fully aware of – but most importantly you missed the vote.

As far as I am aware none of you gave apologies prior to the start of the meeting and I didn’t see any nods of apologies as you left the chambers. Despite the fact that I personally have grave concerns about fracking, as do many people on the Island, a real issue here was the ability of central government to railroad through the planning process of this Council. Do you not think this is also another democratic principle that is trying to be eroded by this government? Are you 100% sure that the people that you individually represent think this is a good thing?

Regardless of what is being discussed and unless you declare an interest, I expect you to honour and value the role you have been elected for and stay until the end of the scheduled time. It was agreed by all to extend the timing of the meeting, seeing as though there was so much to discuss, with the council being driven into such a situation financially, I think on this occasion it was probably to be expected that it would run over time.

Any number of things could have been on the Full Council Agenda last night and I would still feel the same. I look forward to a response from each of you as to why you do not share the same democratic principles as me and all the people I know, and hope in future you will take your elected role more seriously and stay to at least the time the meeting was due to end.

Kind Regards, Kay Smith
20th January 2016

Image: fallkniven under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 22nd January, 2016 3:05pm

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Filed under: Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

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53 Comments on "Letter: How can your councillor represent you if they leave meetings early?"

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Wighton
Maybe one of the accountable IW Councill officers can keep track officially when people leave the room. It’s one thing to pop out for an unavoidable loo break. However, it’s another thing to give the public the perception that you were in the room for debate and discussion about important issues (whether you were there for the vote is public record as named votes). Why would they… Read more »
Frank James

Quite right; they can’t (represent you if they leave meetings early), and so should make way for more responsible people.

phil jordan
To be even clearer….and I also voiced astonishment, dismay and concern at the exit of the four Councillors immediately before the fracking motion…. Yet again… Cllr Whitehouse arrived late (as did Cllr Seely), he had much to say about budgetary matters and yet, [as I have consistently pointed out, he does NOT attend Member briefings having missed now about 50 of them since 2013 … the latest… Read more »
Mrs Retired Hack
Thank you to everyone who has brought this matter to public attention. I can quite understand if my county councillor has a different view to me (and he all too frequently does?), but I find it hard to accept that some of them feel it is alright to clear off early as though they are making some kind of worthwhile statement by doing so. Councillors get allowances… Read more »
Josh Dinsdale
Its quite clear that a number of councillors are not in it for the right reasons. They don’t t give a hoot about representing the cisterns of the island, but more about the status such a position brings. Maybe we should look to the ancient Greek way of doing things, appointment by lottery. Much like jury service it should really be a civic duty and not a… Read more »
Josh Dinsdale

Excuse my auto correct spelling mistakes, hazards of replying on a phone!

Rod Manley
Failure to turn up is a sign of the times and conditions created by the neo-liberals. The observation that Kay has made highlights the point. The Conservatives and their voting shows both the contempt they are developing towards local democracy and sleight of hand regarding their perceived relevance. The Privatisation and outsourcing programme has placed roads, Public Transport, connectivity, Waste disposal, Health,care, education and a host of… Read more »
dave

In reply to Rob Manley’s comments – Small business have, in the past, provided a cheaper service. However, they have not always provided an efficient service. Indeed, some of them can only be described as “cowboys”.

Ali Hayden.
These Councillors are failing those who elected them. With little or no commitment they do not deserve to serve the Island. Many also do not attend briefings or meetings which would give them an insight into what was being discussed at Full Council. Instead they chose to hold up proceedings with unnecessary statements + questions that would have been available to them beforehand. Such ridiculous game-playing is… Read more »
Linda Chester

Well said Ali! But I fear that the big fat egos of said Councillors will not allow them to either ” move over or resign”. Lets hope that this article has woken up the folk who voted them in and at the next local elections we do get some candidates who will “do their best for the Isle of Wight+ its residents.

James Makepeace

It is standard procedure for Balfour Beatty to “buy” the support of councillors in order to get their way when pursuing highly lucrative public money contracts. Only a small part of what this giant corporation does is in fact legal.

HelenW

Whenever there’s trouble ….. it’s always the same people!

Peter Whiteman

Interesting these comments and I agree with Ali who has it about right! I have always thought for sometime that IW Cllr’s should be accountable to people who have elected them and that their attendance should be monitored and their performance related to the expenses claimed.

Robert Jones
How can they represent you? They can’t. They’re not trying to. They’re not committed to their role but they know that people on the island will vote Conservative even if they believe Tory councillors are mafiosi, because that’s what elderly, well-heeled, don’t-give-a-damn-about-anyone-else voters do. Good luck with breaking that habit, but conservatism exists for a reason, which is that while change may liberate some, it threatens others:… Read more »
Josh Dinsdale

Very well said, I couldn’t agree more!

block8
Excellent comment Mr. Jones. I have long felt the same about the voting habits on this Island but I couldn’t possibly express it as eloquently as you have. I always have tried to find the silver lining in every cloud and the only one I can find in this crisis is that if the council cut everything, it will affect everyone. And people might consider what they… Read more »
davimel
Absolutely spot on Robert. It seems that those of us lower down the totem pole are given lip service, patted on the head and sent away whilst nothing changes. The ONLY way a change could happen was if their cosy coffee morning lifestyles were threatened in some way, but I doubt they would even be aware of anything going wrong as long as their ‘Pals’ pat THEM… Read more »
dave

It’s obviously taken quite a while for Robert Jones to see the error of his ways.

Robert Jones
Never erred in my life. Apart from the once….. draws thick veil, sneaks away discreetly. If you mean seeing Steve Ross as a flare of hope, well he was and there’s not a lot of point gainsaying it. That doesn’t mean he was my favoured candidate – or that I voted for him. Compared to Mark Woodnutt, though – a light in our darkness, oh Lord.
Cicero
Mmmm! Before my time, but do you mean Baron Ross of Newport, the MP that became a Liberal peer, representing the party whose ideology (according to its website) is based on building ” a Liberal Society in which every citizen shall possess liberty, property and security.” Note “property” Given the performance of the party led by Clegg in the recent ill-fated Coalition it was difficult to distinguish… Read more »
Robert Jones
That’s the boy, yes. Ross was of course a Liberal, not a LibDem: the Social Democratic Party rump had yet to pollute his party. Ross – whom I knew slightly – was leagues ahead of the Tories representing or seeking to represent the island at the time. That’s why I went to his memorial service; we had our ups and downs, but you really needn’t think that… Read more »
Cicero

It depends on how far one wants to go back into the roots of political ideologies. Those of the Whigs and Tories make interesting reading, especially when they become entwined at a later stage of political development.

Wighton

….or Cicero, “cicero”!

Cicero

Yep -my namesake was a republican and anti-dictatorship imposed by politicians, military landowners such as Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. (Replace the military with te Home Office and maybe there are echoes today?)

Cicero was executed by soldiers on orders of Julius Caesar’s mate and protegee, Mark Anthony.

Cicero

“military and rich landowners”

Wighton
cicero, we probably agree that there is too much corrupt business and corrupt government, however, I have a slightly different view of Cicero’s alleged heroism and altruism (though Mark Anthony and Caesar were much worse IMHO.) Sed de gustibus non disputandem est!!! ;-) This Government (Tory) is much aligned with Mark Anthony; power and corruption is part of their mantra, and they are high on the “let… Read more »
Cicero

I suspect that Cicero was neither heroic not altruistic. He ran away from Rome when challenged by the authorities and made alliances with political enemies at times (notably with the First Triumvirate).

(non qui parum habet, set qui plus cupit, pauper est- presumaby there is much intellectual poverty in Tory ranks?)

outrageous
If I left work early, my pay would be docked (if I was lucky) or I would be sacked. Why is the council not altering it’s constitution to prevent councillors leaving early, except in extreme circumstances? Why are the council not docking councillors allowances who do not attend or leave early? If a councillor has a medical problem, their partner is about to give birth, or the… Read more »
Cicero

Clocking in/out for councillors, MPs and Lords needed?

Wighton

“The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.” ;-)

yjc

I suppose if councillors arrive late and/or leave early it is still ticked that they attended the meeting on their list of attendance. Shame on them.

Minnieb

In any meetings (which are many) that I have chaired including for the IW council, the minutes have noted when members joined and left the meeting. It’s not difficult.

Wighton

Well done, Minnieb! There are many minutes that don’t note when Councillors come and go, obviously not yours, or you missed people sneaking out whilst doing other business.

Cicero

“Comes the Revolution comrade and we will all smoke cigars!”
“But I don’t like cigars”
“Comes the Revolution and you will smoke what you are damn well told to smoke!”

:-))

blue

Is the Union post at the IW Council paid for by the IW Council Taxpayers?

blue

Is this Union post a Statutory Service?

blue

If this is not a Satutory Service, the Union Post should be paid in full by the Union.Not by the IW Council Taxpayers

blue

The IW Council are expecting Town/Parish Councils to take services on.It is a reasonable request in hard times, for the Union Post at the IW Council to be paid in full by the Union.

blue

If this is not a reasonable request it looks like the IW Council is operating a double standard?

steve stubbings

Fortunately, a good many councillors recognise the immense contribution that Mark Chiverton makes towards the effective working of the Isle of Wight Council. He’s worth every penny the tax payers pay him.

blue

“There you have it then” from the IW Council Deputy Leader!

blue

SS,What about the IW Council staff who are going to lose there jobs and the cuts in services. Has the Council asked, the Union to fund this full-time Union post in these hard times?

blue

Correction: their jobs.

Ian Young
It may seem that there is a full time Union job being funded by the IWC, but I suspect the Union has to, and indeed can demonstrate that every hour of this time is being used in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities. Should that not be the case I am sure the IWC like any employer… Read more »
blue

IY,When the IW Council is asking Town/Parish Councils even Schools to fund services it is a reasonable request for the Union to fund the full-time Union post at the IW Council.

Ian Young
We will have to differ then Blue, but I’ll just say this. In my experience most big employers would much prefer to do business with a local Trade Union officer rather than with individuals or ad-hoc groups of individuals, they find it convenient and much more cost effective. As such they are prepared, in fact are required, to allow paid time off for the specific purpose of… Read more »
blue

IY, You do not lose the Union post you just get the Union to fund it not the IW Council Taxpayer,when we are in these hard times.The IW Council is asking others to fund services/take on services.So it is reasonable to ask the Union to fund this post.

blue

When the IW Council are asking other groups to take on services/fund services it is a reasonable request for the Union to fund their own full-time Union post at the IW Council it is not about losing the service.

retired hack
Dear Blue, In order to spare you the embarrassment (and the rest of us the tedium) of keep having to answering your own questions: union representatives have a statutory right to reasonable paid time off from employment to carry out trade union duties. See Acas Code of Conduct 3. As I suspect you know very well, this is one of absentee Cllr Chris Whitehouse’s regular distraction techniques… Read more »
blue

RH.Rod Manley likes to comment on Trade Unions.Is it not time the Union paid for their own Union post at the IW Council and not the IW Taxpayers?

blue

RH,This is a paid full-time Union post with the IW Council.

blue

“Oh dear” when Council Services are being cut and jobs lost the Council Taxpayers still get this.

blue

IW Councillors, should attend meetings in full and not leave unless there is a good reason.