Councillors missed 122 meetings in 18-month periodBy Tim Harris
December 31, 2012
COUNCILLORS for Aldershot and Farnborough have missed more than 120 meetings they were required to attend in the last 18 months.
Recent figures show the 39 ward councillors for Rushmoor Borough Council were absent for 122 meetings between June 2011 and November.
The figures, obtained by the News & Mail through a Freedom of Information request, revealed that some councillors’ absences breached double figures over this period.
The councillor who missed the most meetings was Alan Chainey, who represents the Cove and Southwood ward. Cllr Chainey missed 18 meetings.
He said: “The last year has been chaos for me, work has been very difficult. I do find it disappointing when I have to miss meetings. I would like to go to every meeting but unfortunately that is not possible. Unfortunately some of us are not retired and cannot spend our entire lives at the council.”
Cllr Chainey insisted his residents do not miss out because he carries out ward work and often holds councillor surgeries.
Missing the second highest number of meetings was Empress councillor Brian Parker, with 13 absences.
While Cllr Parker’s number of missed meetings reached double figures, he underlined the fact he has received treatment in multiple hospitals this year, including having a heart operation in Southampton.
“The council know that if I had been well I would have been at the meetings,” he said. “I was disappointed. It is not because I didn’t want to go, it is just health comes first.”
In joint third place for the most meetings missed was Manor Park councillor Ron Hughes and Ken Muschamp, who represents Fernhill. Both men missed seven meetings.
Cllr Muschamp said: “We all have lives and a number of us work full-time. It is all very well for those retired ones. I know I make every effort to get to meetings.”
Cllr Hughes said the reason behind his absences was down to trips to America, to visit and babysit his grandchildren. “I do not normally miss meetings, I would break legs to get there,” he said. “It does not look good if I start missing meetings. I think all the officers at Rushmoor know very well I would move heaven and earth to get to meetings.”
Some councillors did not miss a single meeting over the 18 month period, including councillors Keith Dibble, Mike Roberts, Steve Smith and deputy leader Roland Dibbs.
Councillors Rod Cooper, Liz Corps and Barry Jones have also not missed a meeting, although they were only elected as ward councillors in May.
Cllr Smith said: “I think it is our duty to attend all the meetings. What is the point of being a councillor and being asked to go to meetings if you are not going to go?”
An even greater number of meetings were missed by councillors at Hart District Council over a similar period. Between the 35 district councillors for Hart a total of 217 meetings were missed between May 2011 and October 2012.
These figures, also obtained by the News & Mail under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed seven councillors missed meetings in double figures.
Only one Hart councillor had not missed a single meeting in that period.