10:35AM, Friday 07 April 2017
Nineteen councillors on the Royal Borough missed a quarter or more of their council meetings in the last year.
We looked at the attendance records of the 56 serving councillors. There is currently one vacant seat ahead of a by-election next month.
The Advertiser and Express contacted everyone with 74 per cent attendance or less and asked their reasons for missing meetings.
Explanations varied from health reasons to family matters, business reasons and panel clashes.
Cllr Marion Mills was the only councillor to have 100 per cent attendance, followed by Cllr Malcolm Beer with 98 per cent and Cllr Derek Wilson with 97 per cent.
Cllr Wilson attended the most meetings, with a total of 76.
Cllr Asghar Majeed had the lowest attendance with 40 per cent. He said this was due to an illness in the family but added he was still available for his constituents.
Cllr Paul Brimacombe, who had the second lowest attendance with 54 per cent, said the employment panel he sits on clashed with work commitments.
Cllr Wesley Richards (57 per cent) disputed his figure, claiming he only missed one full council and one panel meeting.
However, the council’s website states he has sent apologies for six meetings in total. He said it was due to being out of the country on business.
Cllr Paul Lion (58 per cent) said: “I have actually closed my business. I was struggling to perform to my best.”
Cllr Lion’s family had run the Elva Lodge Hotel, in Castle Hill, for 50 years but the site is being demolished and redeveloped into flats. He said his reasoning was ‘not excuses’.
Cllr Michael Airey (60 per cent) said: “I do my best to arrange my work travel around attending council but sometimes, as you can see, the dates clash and I have work deadlines to meet.”
He stepped down from Bray Parish Council in February because it was clashing with Royal Borough commitments.
Cllr Claire Stretton (64 per cent) said: “As a self-employed individual, moving from a paid cabinet position to a backbencher has meant an inevitable re-focusing on my business, which had suffered somewhat.”
Cllr Ross McWilliams (62 per cent) and Cllr Jack Rankin (66 per cent) both said their attendance was due to working in central London.
Cllr McWilliams said: “I hope my residents will understand the trials and tribulations of commuting.”
Cllr Colin Rayner (72 per cent) listed six reasons for his absence, which included an operation in January, attending parish council meetings, conflict of interest on meeting agendas and attending other meetings.
Cllr MJ Saunders (70 per cent) sent the Advertiser and Express a list of every meeting he had attended, including resident meetings. He said his absences were due to meeting clashes, holidays and a ‘little illness’.
Cllr Marius Gilmore (61 per cent) said it was challenging finding time for everything, with a young family, long commutes and full-time work. He said: “Despite this pressure on time and not being able to attend all of the committees, forums and panels, I think it’s important to continue to represent our demographic at council.”
Cllr Stuart Carroll (72 per cent) and Cllr Charles Hollingsworth (63 per cent) both said their absences were due to illness.
Cllr John Bowden (71 per cent) said ‘no comment’ when contacted by the Advertiser and Express.
Cllr Nicola Pryer (67 per cent), Cllr Leo Walters (69 per cent), Cllr Hashim Bhatti (62 per cent), Cllr David Evans (72 per cent) and Cllr Judith Diment (60 per cent) have so far failed to respond.
Council leader Cllr Simon Dudley said: “On the whole councillors’ attendance is very good. We like to publish it so you can scrutinise it. I want councillors to go to as many meetings as possible, but some have lives that are different to others.”
Pick up a copy of this week's Maidenhead Advertiser and Windsor Express to see how many meetings your local councillor has attended.
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