‘No excuses’: Blackpool’s former mayor frustrated by councillors missing meetings

Blackpool council chamber
Blackpool council chamber
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There is “no excuse” for the number of meetings being missed by some councillors, a council veteran has today warned.

It comes as Gazette analysis of our elected officials’ attendance at public meetings revealed some are effectively being paid thousands of pounds per meeting they attend.

But while some councillors have only been to a handful of meetings in the last 12 months, two have been to 43 out of a possible 45.

And a dozen have a perfect 100 per cent attendance record for the year.

But some councillors have struggled with health problems in the last 12 months, while others are planning to step down in May due to the pressure of the workload.

Conservative councillor Maxine Callow said: “Unless they have a valid excuse, they should all be there at meetings to represent the people.

“Our meetings are set 18 months in advance so there is no excuse.

“I find the meetings very interesting so I enjoy attending them.”

After she raised the issue at a recent tourism, resources and economy scrutiny committee, The Gazette looked at the attendance record for all 42 Blackpool councillors over the last year.

While some have only been expected to attend a dozen or fewer meetings in that time, extra responsibilities mean there are seven with 30 or more meetings a year in their calendars.

And Coun Colin Maycock – whose health problems limited him to just four out of seven meetings in a year – picked up the standard £9,180.84 annual councillor allowance last year – effectively being paid £2,295 a meeting.

That is more than leader Simon Blackburn, who gets an enhanced allowance of £36,723, averaging £2,040 for 18 meetings.

While council meetings are only a portion of a councillor’s work, it stands in stark contract to Coun Alistair Humphreys whose 43 meetings attended earned him just £213 each.

Speaking at the tourism metting recently, Coun Callow, a former Blackpool mayor, said: “We have got so many cabinet members missing and I don’t think it is right.

“These meetings... should be the number one priority because as councillors we have a responsibility to ask questions so that we can tell our constituents if they ask what is actually happening.

“I have mentioned this before and I don’t think it’s very satisfactory at all.”

She made the comments after her question was unable to be answered due to the leader and deputy leader of the council not being present.

The councillors who attended 100 percent of their meetings were Labour’s Amy Cross, Martin Mitchell, David O’Hara, Chris Ryan, Lynn Williams and Christine Wright. Maxine and Peter Callow, Michele and Danny Scott, Paul Galley and Tony Williams achieved the same as Conservative councillors.

Coun Mitchell of Layton ward says sometimes the councillors’ jobs can affect attendance.

“I think it is important to note that most councillors have a full time job and individual circumstances can get in the way.

“I try to attend as many as my meetings as possible and I am glad to hear I have 100 percent attendance.”

Among the worst attendees at council meetings are Colin Maycock, Ian Coleman and Vikki Singleton.

Independent Coun Maycock, who quit the Conservatives last year, attended only four meetings out of a possible seven, however this was due to health issues.

The Bispham councillor also announced he is stepping down in May because of his health issues.

Coun Singleton, who represents Labour in the Marton ward, missed nine meetings in 12 months – more than any other councillor.

She attended 21 meetings of an expected 30 and has also announced she will be not be standing as a councillor in the May elections.

She said: “The majority of this year has not been brilliant for me.

“I was diagnosed with gallstones earlier this year and I have been on a waiting list to have them removed.

“I have been on morphine awaiting an operation and is one of the reasons I have been unable to attend meetings.

“As well as childcare issues that I have been experiencing I have decided to not run in the May elections.”

Councillor Meetings present Attendance (%)
Michele Scott 36 100
Danny Scott 27 100
David O’Hara 24 100
Martin Mitchell 16 100
Lynn Williams 27 100
Maxine Callow 20 100
Paul Galley 23 100
Chris Ryan 20 100
Peter Callow 13 100
Amy Cross 16 100
Christine Wright 17 100
Tony Williams 11 100
Peter Hunter 29 97
Derek Robertson 23 96
Jim Elmes 23 96
Ivan Taylor 23 96
Alistair Humphreys 43 96
Adrian Hutton 43 96
Simon Blackburn 18 95
Gary Coleman 15 94
Luke Taylor 15 94
Gillian Campbell 15 94
Graham Cain 14 93
David Collett 26 93
Kim Critchley 22 92
Jim Hobson 32 91
Andrew Stansfield 17 89
Mark Smith 17 89
Kath Benson 16 89
Don Clapham 14 88
Fred Jackson 26 87
Kath Rowson 11 85
Maria Kirkland 16 84
Jason Roberts 15 83
Lily Henderson 10 83
Allan Matthews 19 83
Christian Cox 13 81
David Owen 14 78
Debbie Coleman 7 78
Vikki Singleton 21 70
Ian Coleman 5 63
Colin Maycock 4 57