Rotherham councillors booted out

December 12, 2011 2:42 PM

How much work do your councillors do? This is a question being asked in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, today. All councillors in Rotherham are paid an annual allowance of £12,130. This is to compensate them for their time, and for any income lost from their normal business activities or job whilst fulfilling their council duties. Yet what about councillors who don't do any work but continue to claim allowances?



John Gamble was elected to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) in May 2008. Mr Gamble is something of a Scarlet Pimpernel. He rarely attended meetings, and the last one he did attend was a full council meeting at the beginning of February this year - ten months ago. According the Local Government Act 1972, a councillor is automatically disqualified if he/she fails to attend any meeting for six months. As Mr Gamble did not give any reasons for his absences, such as ill health, this disqualification should have taken place in August.

Instead, RMBC has let this drag on a further four months until they finally took action. As a result of this inertia, Rotherham council taxpayers are over £4K out of pocket, although with such a poor attendance record since he was elected, it could be argued they were out of pocket the moment he was sworn in.

Attendance at meetings is one of the few ways we can judge a councillor's performance, but councillors will also point to the other work they do in their communities. A supporter has told me that Mr Gamble did not even hold surgeries. Looking at the council's website, this seems to be true. On his profile page, under the heading of 'Surgery Details', nothing is listed.

I contacted RMBC to find out if we are going to get our money back for the last four months when he shouldn't have been a councillor. I am still waiting for an answer, but this is not the only Rotherham councillor who has acted in a similar way,

In March this year, former Tory councillor, Gavin Sharp resigned his seat just a few weeks before he was due to stand for election. Since being elected in May 2007, he had been absent from 80 percent of meetings. He hadn't attended a full council meeting since May 2009, and had made appearances at just enough meetings to allow him to receive his allowance.

According to press reports at the time, his fellow Conservative councillors tried to persuade him to stand down and asked to him to pay the money back, but without success. You would have thought that as a bank manager and magistrate, Mr Sharp would have done the right thing at the time, and it is not known if since his resignation he has paid back all or some of the money he claimed.

These two lazy, (now thankfully) former councillors pocketed money from Rotherham residents, many of whom are on low incomes, without batting an eyelid. Not that they are the only ones at fault. RMBC should have acted sooner to remove John Gamble, and the Conservative group should have taken action against Gavin Sharp.

We elect councillors to make decisions on our behalf. For them to do this, they have to attend meetings. We also elect them to represent our views. Unless they regularly meet their constituents, it is impossible for them to do that effectively. Both of them should hang their heads in shame.

 How much work do your councillors do? This is a question being asked in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, today. All councillors in Rotherham are paid an annual allowance of £12,130. This is to compensate them for their time, and for any income lost from their normal business activities or job whilst fulfilling their council duties. Yet what about councillors who don't do any work but continue to claim allowances?



John Gamble was elected to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) in May 2008. Mr Gamble is something of a Scarlet Pimpernel. He rarely attended meetings, and the last one he did attend was a full council meeting at the beginning of February this year - ten months ago. According the Local Government Act 1972, a councillor is automatically disqualified if he/she fails to attend any meeting for six months. As Mr Gamble did not give any reasons for his absences, such as ill health, this disqualification should have taken place in August.

Instead, RMBC has let this drag on a further four months until they finally took action. As a result of this inertia, Rotherham council taxpayers are over £4K out of pocket, although with such a poor attendance record since he was elected, it could be argued they were out of pocket the moment he was sworn in.

Attendance at meetings is one of the few ways we can judge a councillor's performance, but councillors will also point to the other work they do in their communities. A supporter has told me that Mr Gamble did not even hold surgeries. Looking at the council's website, this seems to be true. On his profile page, under the heading of 'Surgery Details', nothing is listed.

I contacted RMBC to find out if we are going to get our money back for the last four months when he shouldn't have been a councillor. I am still waiting for an answer, but this is not the only Rotherham councillor who has acted in a similar way,

In March this year, former Tory councillor, Gavin Sharp resigned his seat just a few weeks before he was due to stand for election. Since being elected in May 2007, he had been absent from 80 percent of meetings. He hadn't attended a full council meeting since May 2009, and had made appearances at just enough meetings to allow him to receive his allowance.

According to press reports at the time, his fellow Conservative councillors tried to persuade him to stand down and asked to him to pay the money back, but without success. You would have thought that as a bank manager and magistrate, Mr Sharp would have done the right thing at the time, and it is not known if since his resignation he has paid back all or some of the money he claimed.

These two lazy, (now thankfully) former councillors pocketed money from Rotherham residents, many of whom are on low incomes, without batting an eyelid. Not that they are the only ones at fault. RMBC should have acted sooner to remove John Gamble, and the Conservative group should have taken action against Gavin Sharp.

We elect councillors to make decisions on our behalf. For them to do this, they have to attend meetings. We also elect them to represent our views. Unless they regularly meet their constituents, it is impossible for them to do that effectively. Both of them should hang their heads in shame.

 

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