A BOROUGH councillor has broken his public promise to start attending meetings again after a four-month absence.
UKIP’s Paul Swansborough made the vow in the Standard in January after it was revealed he had last been seen at a Redditch Borough Council meeting on September 15 – although the council has since confirmed he did attend a task group meeting on October 1.
He stated he had been unable to attend because he was on business in the Middle East but would be back for full council in February and able to attend meetings after that.
But when councillors met at full council on Monday (February 23) to discuss the budget for next year, Coun Swansborough had given his apologies and did not show up.
Under the Local Government Act if a councillor does not attend a meeting for six months they cease to be a member of that authority. It means Coun Swansborough has until April 1 to resume his attendance.
Coun Carole Gandy originally asked ‘light-heartedly’ at last month’s full council meeting whether he had resigned because she had not seen him. But this week she said she no longer felt ‘frivolous or mischievous’ about the issue.
“I feel very angry. Council taxpayers are paying for his allowances on top of his special allowances for being an overview and scrutiny member.
“I do not believe it’s acceptable. When you take on the role of councillor and you work you have to make choices as to whether you have the time available to you.
“I feel very strongly as other people have taken the decision unfortunately they’d love to take on the role but because of family commitments or their job they can’t.
“This is someone who is supposed to be representing the Winyates ward from however many thousands of miles away. I don’t know how residents can contact him and how he can deal with their problems when he probably doesn’t know what the weather’s like over here never mind anything else.”
Coun Swansborough had not responded to the Standard’s request for a comment as we went to press.
But previously he said council officers were fully briefed he would be away for a period of time and had not raised any immediate concerns.
“I take my role as a district councillor very seriously and trust the people of Redditch recognise we now live in a global economy. Modern life is hard for everyone. Particularly for councillors, who have to strike a balance between family, work and their public duties.”