A BOROUGH councillor has defended his attendance record after failing to report for a meeting for four months.
UKIP councillor Paul Swansborough was last seen at a full council meeting on September 15 – prompting Coun Carole Gandy to question whether he had resigned when he failed to attend the latest meeting on Monday (January 26).
He is also a member of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, something he gets an extra £1,072 on top of the general allowance of £3,350 for, but has not been to those meetings since September 2.
The Local Government Act states if councillors do not attend meetings for six months, unless their absence has been approved, they will cease to be a member of the authority. It means Coun Swansborough, who was elected in May last year, only has until March 15 to start attending again.
The council’s own code of conduct also states councillors must attend meetings of the full council and its committees ‘as necessary and contribute effectively’.
But Coun Swansborough told the Standard he had been unable to attend meetings because he was currently on business in the Middle East but would be back for full council in February and able to attend meetings after that.
He said he was ‘100 per cent committed’ to the people of Winyates and had been in regular contact with council officers and residents via email and Skype.
“Council officers were fully briefed I would be away for this time and they did not raise any immediate concerns. I did explore the possibility of using video conferencing, which is widely used in the business world, to attend meetings. Unfortunately, the current Local Government Act does not allow for this despite the fact that every councillor is equipped with an iPad.” he said.
“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.”