LIBERAL Democrat councillor Paul Whittle has stepped down from his role on Fareham Borough Council.
The Fareham East ward councillor has resigned after working full-time in Saudi Arabia and serving as a councillor has become ‘more demanding.’
Paul Whittle is absolutely correct when he says his “membership of the council is no longer appropriate.”Cllr Sean Woodward
Calls were made for opposition leader Mr Whittle to step down after he went to just five of the 11 debates he was expected at between April and October last year – equivalent to 45 per cent.
Tory council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘Paul Whittle is absolutely correct when he says his “membership of the council is no longer appropriate.”
‘In fact him re-standing for election in May 2014 was not appropriate knowing he had just landed a full-time job in Saudi Arabia.
‘His attendance at meetings over the last two years has been abysmal and the people who elected him have been very poorly served.
‘Despite that he has drawn over £24,000 in allowances for doing next to nothing.’
As previously reported in The News, concerns were first raised about Mr Whittle’s Middle Eastern job in August 2014 when he missed the Local Government Association conference due to work commitments when the council had spent more than £500 on his ticket.
At the time Mr Whittle said his hours were flexible and he frequently flied back to his home in Fareham.
A statement from the Fareham Liberal Democrats said: ‘We would like to thank Paul for his services to the local party, in carrying out his role as leader of the opposition on Fareham Borough Council and more importantly representing Fareham East.
‘During his six years as a councillor for Fareham East ward Paul has also been in full time employment.
‘For more than a year these challenges have become more demanding and therefore Paul has decided the residents of Fareham East and Liberal Democrat group at the council will be better served by a very capable replacement nomination in Maryam Brady, who has been working alongside Katrina Trott and is a welcome ward partner.
‘Paul is completely endorsing his successor for election in May 2016.’
It added: ‘Paul has always strived to put the interests of Fareham East first.
‘The council will be deprived of an excellent ward councillor whose goal was to ensure the role of the opposition was effective.
‘We will miss his voice on the council but will value his continued advice.’