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Uttoxeter Town councillor slammed for poor meeting attendance

By Uttoxeter Post and Times  |  Posted: July 16, 2014

Uttoxeter Town Hall

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A TOWN councillor has been slammed for only attending his authority’s meetings for “ten minutes in the last year”.

According to colleagues speaking at a recent Uttoxeter Town Council meeting, Paul Collins has only attended two meetings “for about five minutes” in the last 12 months.

Alan Chapman said Councillor Collins had told him he no longer wished to sit on the council but feared his leaving could prompt a costly by-election.

Fellow town councillor James Russell said: “We recently had a situation where a councillor was deemed to have gone past six months without attending.

“Now we’re in a position where we have a councillor who’s attended just twice, for about five minutes, in the last year.

“I think that’s an insult to the electorate
in Uttoxeter.

“When Councillor Montgomery became mayor, we resolved to record and report apologies for absence.

“But, if we look at our minutes from meetings, they only show approved absences.

“There’s never been any comment or vote on apologies and whether or not we should accept them.”

Alan Chapman said: “I spoke to Councillor Collins recently and he told me he no longer wished to be a councillor.

“But he said he was afraid that, if he left the council, it could cost the taxpayer dear in terms of funding a by-election.

“I told him that wouldn’t necessarily have to happen as we can co-opt members when someone leaves.”

According to the Local Government Act 1972, a councillor who fails to attend a meeting for six consecutive months automatically loses office unless, before the six month period expires, they give a reason for absence and it is approved by the council.

However, the town council did not approve Councillor Rowlson’s absence, so she was automatically disqualified.

Now the authority will have to publicly advertise the casual vacancy to East Staffordshire Borough Council.

After the vacant role is advertised, members of the public have 14 days to declare their wish for a by-election.

If a by-election is not called, then the remaining councillors can co-opt another member.

Last time a by-election was called in Uttoxeter, in June 2012, the town’s taxpayers had to fork out £3,000.

Councillor Collins could not be reached for a comment by the Advertiser, despite several attempts.

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