…get out of the Council Chamber.
It’s time for the next council meeting soon (December 1st from 7.30pm – you will be there, yes?), and there’s an interesting item on the agenda.
Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 states that if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months to attend any meeting of the authority, he/she shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority.
Or, in order words, a Councillor – who picks up a rather handsome allowance for, in some cases, doing bloody nothing – needs to only attend two meetings a year, hardly an onerous chore.
However, we seem to have two councillors – both Labour – who are, unfortunately, rather unwell at the moment, and may not be able to carry out those two meetings a year, let alone get out and about doing casework in their respective wards. The papers continue:
Due to a serious health condition, Councillor Mitzi Green may not be able to attend Council on 1 December 2016 and there is a risk of the statutory provisions applying.
Councillor Bob Currie also has a serious health condition and, whilst he attended Council on 22 September 2016, he may not be able to attend future meetings.
For the reasons outlined above, it is proposed that both Councillors be granted a dispensation from the requirement to attend a meeting of the Council until 18 May 2017 (Annual Council).
The most obvious thing, of course, would be to stand down as a councillor, and let someone else stand for election to take over. The problem is that both of these have been councillors since 2002, and have been re-elected at each election ever since, so Labour clearly don’t want to run the risk of losing a couple of seats – in doing so, it exposes itself to significant risk. It’s all well and good having a majority, but the slimmer that majority, the weaker your party becomes – if they lost those two seats, they’d only have 32 seats across the borough, with the opposition and minority groups totalling 31. Literally, two disenfranchised Labour members – and there’s more than that, according to our source in the group – could fracture the administration.
Of course, all this is academic: the proposal will be nodded through with Labour supporting it, the Conservatives objecting, and the other dribs and drabs, never quite sure which bed to jump into, will safely abstain knowing they remain powerless to make a difference either way.
We hope both councillors are well on the road to recovery, but if Labour want to lose the label of ‘laughing stock’ perhaps a conversation ought to be had about whether hanging on for a few grand a year is really the right thing to do.
 £8340 per annum, which works out at about £1400 an hour if they attend just their two, three-hour council meetings. Nice work if you can get it.