SHOW up or step down – that’s the stark warning to Fareham’s councillors as statistics reveal some are attending less than half of the meetings they are meant to.
Attendance figures show Lib Dem opposition leader Paul Whittle, who last year started a lucrative full-time job in Saudi Arabia, went to just five of the 11 debates he was expected at in the past six months – equivalent to 45 per cent.
No-one has seen Cllr Whittle, and everyone asks “where’s Whittle” at the beginning of meetings.Councillor Sean Woodward, Tory leader of Fareham Borough Council
And independent councillor Nick Gregory had the worst attendance after he made it to two of his 10 appointments – a record of 20 per cent.
Cllr Gregory blames his poor showing on health issues and work commitments and told The News he’s decided to step down at next year’s elections as he finds his role ‘restricted’.
Dia Chakravarty, political director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers expect councillors to take their responsibilities seriously.
‘That involves turning up to meetings to discuss and decide on serious policy matters affecting the residents.
‘If councillors fail to do that then how can they justify taking taxpayer-funded allowances?’
Cllr Sean Woodward, Tory leader of Fareham Borough Council, who has a 100 per cent attendance record after appearing at all of his 11 meetings since April, said: ‘Cllr Whittle has not attended executive meetings for a year.
‘His predecessors always attended because I give the opposition leader a free rein to speak at them and challenge policy.
‘If the Lib Dems are not being represented at the main decision-making board at the council, then the people who elected them are not represented.
‘For whatever reason, if people can’t be a councillor, they should step aside and let someone else who can.
‘No-one has seen Cllr Whittle and everyone asks “where’s Whittle” at the beginning of meetings.’
The majority of Tory councillors have 100 per cent records.
Cllr Gregory, who runs a children’s nursery, said: ‘If you realistically look at it, everything is pre-determined prior to committee and full council meetings anyway.
‘As opposition, your input is very restricted in terms of your ability to change anything.’
He added: ‘Due to work commitments and health issues, I haven’t been able to attend meetings.
‘I don’t forsee that to be any different in the next six months, as it’s a busy time for the business, and I intend to stand down next year.
‘But it doesn’t stop me doing my ward work.’
Cllr Whittle declined to comment.