July 26, 2022 11.15 am

Controversy over suggestions to replace poorly councillors

Their colleagues said they were still working hard

By Local Democracy Reporter

Controversy has risen over a suggestion that poorly councillors should stand down, with one saying the idea was “disgraceful”.

South Kesteven District Councillors Judy Smith and Rosemary Kaberry-Brown have been unable to attend meetings for the last six months due to health reasons.

They were given permission on Monday for another six months to avoid them being struck off.

A councillor suggested that residents would be better served if they stepped aside, but others responded that the job was about “more than rocking up to meetings”.

Councillor Baxter, leader of the newly formed Alliance SK group, put the question to yesterday’s full council meeting.

“These are both honourable and outspoken councillors who are well-respected and have served for more than 20 years,” he said.

“However, as this is the second six-month dispensation that has been given, it sadly seems they are unable to perform the duties which they were elected to.

“I asked a social media group of my constituents whether they supported more dispensation being given. 78% of the 300 people who voted said they should retire and by-elections should be held.

Councillors voted to give the absent councillors six more months dispensation | Photo: SKDC

“We have to ask whether residents are being represented in the way that they expect in meetings.

“I don’t wish to be mean but residents need someone to perform the roles. Perhaps councillors could be given the title of Honorary Alderman.”

Councillor Judy Smith is a member for Bourne East and Councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown represents Peascliffe & Ridgeway.

The absent councillors, both Conservatives, were fiercely defended by their colleagues, who said they were still working hard.

Councillor Sue Woolley said: “To assume they aren’t doing the job because they aren’t in the room is nonsense. It’s disgraceful to suggest that just because they can’t come to meetings that they aren’t doing the work.

She added: “Councillor Judy Smith is still leading by example.”

Councillor Helen Crawford said: “I know Councillor Smith well, and she is still very much involved with constituents. She gets more calls than BT.”

Councillor Oxley agreed, saying that “there is more to being a councillor than rocking up to meetings.”

Members of the council were told that both councillors hope to return to meetings soon.