I’m worth it - councillor refuses to repay £5,200

DEFIANT Dave Smith is refusing to pay back his allowance despite being suspended
DEFIANT Dave Smith is refusing to pay back his allowance despite being suspended

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A SUSPENDED councillor is refusing to pay back thousands of pounds in allowances after claiming to have saved taxpayers £200,000.

Dave Smith is still being paid his general members’ allowance of £435 per month despite being suspended from Gosport Borough Council in March last year.

The suspension means he cannot attend council meetings or carry out his duties as a councillor.

But a loophole means Mr Smith is still entitled to an annual sum of £5,220 in general members’ allowance.

Rival politicians on the council have criticised him for accepting the payments.

Mr Smith claims he saved taxpayers £200,000 over the last 10 years by running the town’s waterfront festival.

‘Over the 10 years of the festival I have saved the council £20,000 a year in consultancy fees by running it myself,’ he said.

‘We couldn’t afford security so I did it myself and spent my own money getting the training I needed.

‘I would gladly pay it all back but only if they pay me back the money I saved them. I put a lot of work into my community.

‘I have continued to do my case work, working with my constituents.’

Council leader Mark Hook has called on Mr Smith to pay the money back.

He said: ‘Mr Smith had a year where he couldn’t fulfil his duties.

‘He has done no work for a year as a councillor because of his suspension.

‘If you can’t fulfil your duties as a councillor then you shouldn’t be given any allowance.

‘He has a moral obligation to repay the money.’

The loophole allowing suspended councillors to continue receiving their allowance is currently being reviewed by an independent panel.

Cllr Hook added: ‘It’s unfortunate because they can’t ask for the money back in retrospect.

‘When the independent panel last met in 2002 nobody would have thought a councillor would be suspended.

‘It was just unheard of.’

The panel is preparing a report which is expected to be published in May.

Mr Smith can resume working as a councillor for Leesland when his suspension ends tomorrow.

He was found to have broken the council’s code of conduct after claiming its officers were ‘corrupt’.

Mr Smith had previously taken exception to council officers who said he ‘behaved aggressively’ while chairing council meetings.

In a report in The News in May 2009 Mr Smith later accused officers of corruption. He was then reported to the now-abolished Standards Board for England by the council’s chief executive Ian Lycett.