Councillor's attendance goes unmonitored
Councillors who receive thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded allowances do not have their attendance at council meetings monitored.
Despite councillor attendance being recorded in minutes, Merton Council has admitted it has no system to check attendance levels at its full council, cabinet and committee meetings.
The authority refused a request submitted by the Wimbledon Guardian under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act for a breakdown of figures to showcase councillor attendance records since the last election in May 2010.
Julia Regan, Merton Council’s head of democracy services, said it would not be an “appropriate use of the council’s resources” to collate the information.
She said: “We do not hold any documents that contain an analysis of this data, and under the Act we are not obliged to create new information.”
A spokeswoman for Merton Council said: “We don’t analyse council attendance data. There isn’t an issue with attendance in Merton.”
Merton Council’s code of conduct details the principles councillors should abide by, but fails to mention the basic function of attending relevant meetings.
Each councillor receives a basic allowance of £8,694 and those with additional posts are entitled to special responsibility allowances (SRA).
At the top of the SRA scale is the council’s leader, Coun Stephen Alambritis, who receives £34,776 a year in addition to his basic allowance.
Ged Curran, the council’s £185,000-a-year chief executive, has missed two of 12 full council meetings since May 2010.
Mr Curran hit the headlines last December when the Wimbledon Guardian revealed he was told to work from home for one day out of 10 to “review the strategic direction of the authority”.
Neighbouring authority Lambeth Council complied with a FoI request from the Streatham Guardian – the Wimbledon Guardian’s sister title – and provided a breakdown of figures for councillor attendance at meetings.
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