One Source Dec 19 Deputy Director

Tower Hamlets Dec 19 Updated 600

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Local authorities call for power to remove councilors who move long distance away

Two councils have asked Communities Secretary James Brokenshire for powers to remove councillors who move a long distance from the authority on which they sit.

The joint letter from Conservative Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, and Labour’s Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, concerns Donald Adey, who sits on both authorities but now lives in Fife.

He was elected for the city’s Trumpington Ward as a Liberal Democrat and a year later joined the county council, but now sits on both as an independent, attending sufficient meeting to avoid disqualification under the rule that councillors must attend at last every six months.

In their letter, the two leaders said both councils had passed motions unanimously to request “an urgent change at the next legislative opportunity in covering councillors whose personal circumstances change in this way whilst in office where it is clear that they are in no way effectively delivering their obligations as a councillor”.

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They said councillors should be disqualified if they ceased to meet the minimum qualifying conditions required for standing for election, “and where it can also be clearly evidenced that they are unable to perform councillor duties for their residents”.

The leaders said the current legislation’s six months rule had “permitted a councillor to move a significant distance away and twist the system to remain in post by making infrequent token appearances, and thereby draw in this case approximately £15,000 a year in allowances they cannot evidence is justified”.

Given the tight boundaries of some councils, they said disqualification should take effect if a councillor moved more than 50 miles from the boundary of the authority to which they were elected.

Cllr Adey told a journalist from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, who went to Scotland to speak to him, that he planned to quit the city council in March because it was "hard to cover both bases".

Mark Smulian

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