No concerns despite half of councillors missing meetings

Councillors have defended their positions after figures showed that half failed to turn up to all six decision-making meetings this year.

Thursday, 30th June 2016, 3:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th June 2016, 4:11 pm
Warwick District Council NNL-150126-104248001

In the past 12 months, a third of all the district’s elected councillors have made it to less than 10 of the 12 main meetings where policy is questioned and approved.

Warwick District Council has released attendance of all 46 of its members, including full council, executive and committee groups.

Figures from January to May 2016 show that only 23 of the 46 elected councillors attended all six full council meetings, with only 13 of 31 Conservative members making it to 100 per cent.

For Labour, six of nine members showed up to all full council meetings, and just one of three Independent members ticked off a full register.

Michael Coker, deputy leader of the ruling Conservative group, said while high attendance is encouraged and expected, presence in meetings is not indicative of the work put in my members.

“There is a duty on members to attend all council meetings that they are due to,” he said. “But due to ill health or holidays, that simply is not possible all of the time.

“Many councillors also attend meetings for which they are not official members, so that is not recorded.

“We look carefully at the reasons for all non-attendants and overall are satisfied that members who have not attended a meeting have done so for a good reason.”

He added that two group members have since contested their personal record which may slightly change the overall picture.

All policy, spending and change within the district council is decided and voted by an executive of eight.

Their decisions are then sent back to the full council for debate before being passed.

Cllr Coker added: “These are only formal meetings and not indicative of work that has gone on up to that point.”

Since January, only three of the eight cabinet members have made it to all full council meetings, with three missing at least one executive meeting.

Councillors are each paid £4,631 per year for general duties. In addition, group leaders, committee members and the executive earn more to reflect particular responsibilities. In 2014/15, councillors claimed a total of £282,441.20.

The leader of the executive earns £8,371 a year, with portfolio holders earning £3,961.

Payments are also made to chairmen of committees and leaders of opposition groups.

A Warwick District Council spokesperson said that payments are made regardless of attendance, with all figures down to parties to debate.

She said: “All councillors should attend full council meeting. Group leaders will look at the overall wider picture and take action as they see appropriate.

“Councillors receive the basic allowance as standard unless they cease to be a councillor or decline to receive it.”

John Barrott, Labour group leader, said he was “very happy” with the attendance of members - but that action would be taken within the group if this was not the case.

“There are of course, always times when councillors cannot attend a meeting,” he said. “But there is certainly no problem within my group.”

You can find out how your councillor did for the past 6 months or in the past 12 months