A leading Tory has admitted to political mischief making in relation to the item they posted on their website and on Morpeth Matters regarding absence from Committee meetings by two Lib Dem Town Councillors. The comments prove a number of things.
- There is no ConDem pact as claimed by the Labour party.
- The Tories have not checked the facts behind the reasons for councillors’ absences, which would have been legitimate cause for their membership to be extended.
- They also have little understanding of the role of a councillor as they fail to appreciate that most of the work is done outside of formal committees.
- The fact that they want to “see the Lib Dems out of the Town Hall” demonstrates a political approach to Town and Parish Councils that is both inappropriate at local level and fails to acknowledge the good work that has been done by the Lib Dem dominated Town Council since 2007, including instigating and seeing through the Neighbourhood Plan process.
Town and Parish Councillors undertake their role out of love for and commitment to the area in which they live or work. Some of the Tory Town Council candidates do not actually live or work in Morpeth, so why do they not stand for their own Parish? It is a voluntary role and totally unpaid. It is also a four year commitment, which for those in employment, can mean that change of circumstances such as loss of work, threat of redundancy etc. can occur. Councillors also have personal circumstances to face, such as health issues and serious family illness.
One of the Councillors referred to was not only dealing with the sad situation of an extremely sick mother, but, due to change in employment circumstances had to work in Essex mid week when Council meetings take place. The other Councillor referred to also had a recent work change, including a lecturing commitment at Sunderland University on Wednesday evenings. He also has recently undergone surgery and had intended to come to full Council in December, but contracted an infection and was advised to rest. The Tory comments are therefore highly insensitive as well as politically “mischievous”.
Attendance at meetings is not a measurement of work level. Some Councillors never volunteer to join working groups to look into issues and prepare reports. Some Councillors turn up to meetings with their envelope of papers still unopened, so they cannot have done any of the necessary preparation and are ill informed. Councillors also do individual casework with constituents. So do not be fooled by attendance records alone.
Morpeth Town Council operates with consideration and feeling for all its members and staff, including the previous Tory councillor, who has to have been the worst attender ever and never did have her “foot on the pedal.” It is a sad sign of the times that the Tories do not wish to continue this philosophy and post derogatory comments without ascertaining the true facts.