Councillor is sacked for not attending meetings

Cllr Malcolm Hey
Cllr Malcolm Hey
The former Conservative club, in Albert Road, Southsea which could be the site of the new strip club.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142308-635)

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A TORY who sparked outrage by walking out before a Muslim prayer has been sacked from a top job – for not attending meetings.

Cllr Malcolm Hey claimed more than £1,000 in expenses for sitting on Portsmouth City Council’s housing executive.

But he has not attended a single meeting or briefing since he was appointed in May last year.

He was dropped from his position as Conservative housing spokesman after Lib Dem cabinet member for housing, Cllr Steven Wylie, wrote to the Conservative group leader, asking him to either make Cllr Hey take his role seriously – or return the money he has been paid.

Cllr Wylie said: ‘He seems to want to act holier-than-thou on some issues, but when there is work that needs doing he doesn’t show up.

‘We have been making decisions in housing meetings that determine how £60m of the city’s money is being spent, and he has not played any part in that whatsoever. I wrote that he should either quit or give back the money he has received, but I truly believe he should do both.’

Cllr Hey recently came under fire for leaving the council chamber before a prayer by a local imam, stating that they did not believe in ‘the same god’.

He said that following that incident, it felt like the Liberal Democrat group was out to get him.

‘I work in Gosport and that can make it difficult to attend meetings during the day,’ said Cllr Hey. ‘And I have asked for them to be rescheduled, but my requests have fallen on deaf ears. But I feel I have earned my allowance through my other duties as a member of the cabinet.’

Conservative group cabinet member for resources, Cllr Donna Jones, said it would be left up to Cllr Hey whether or not to pay back the money he claimed.

She said: ‘It is not acceptable for him to not carry out his responsibilities, but the decision of whether he should pay the money back is down to him.’

Emma Boon, director of campaign group The Taxpayers’ Alliance, said it was unacceptable that Cllr Hey should be allowed to keep his allowance. She said: ‘He should absolutely pay the money back in full. Taxpayers don’t mind paying allowances to councillors because in most cases they do a good job.

‘But if he has consistently not been doing his job then he should not be getting paid.’