Harlow Tories questioned by Labour over definition of “attending” meetings

News / Mon 24th Jul 2023 at 01:35pm

A HARLOW Labour councillor has attempted to establish what the ruling Tory council define as “attendance” at meetings.

This comes after Great Parndon councillor Steve Le May failed to attend any meetings for close to six months. Had he gone over six months, he would cease to be a councillor and a by-election triggered.

But in the very last week, he “attended” a planning committee meeting. By attending, he did not sit on the committee but sat in the public gallery for a short while before leaving.

Bush Fair councillor Kay Morrison asked:

“Attendance at committee meetings is imperative if you wish to be an active a member of that committee. For councillors (and others) a certain level of attendance is stipulated: an absentee councillor is unlikely to participate in committee business and decision-making.

“However, it appears that definitions of ‘attendance’ differ. One definition is ‘being present, being prepared (ambitious, possibly) and staying until the end’.

Someone who is ‘in attendance’ is usually a guest who has been invited or someone who takes notes. In other words, someone who’s ‘in attendance’ isn’t a member of the committee. Most definitions of ‘attendance’ assume that the individual is physically present (or, occasionally, via Zoom) and is seated within the committee group where s/he/they take part in proceedings.

“What is Harlow Council’s accepted definition of councillor attendance at committee/panel meetings?”

Harlow Council leader Dan Swords response and cllr Morrison’s follow up questions can be seen below.

For the record, the following councillors did not attend this meeting:


Apologies Received: Mike Hardware, James Leppard, Steve Le May, Nick Churchill

No Apologies: Eddie Johnson, Russell Perrin


Apologies Received: Mark Wilkinson, Daniella Pritchard

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12 Comments for Harlow Tories questioned by Labour over definition of “attending” meetings:

Nicholas Taylor
2023-07-24 14:25:25

This question must have been raised because of the absence of Cllr LeMay, who has not participated in any meeting for many months and indeed has only briefly "attended" one meeting during the last 8 months. Those residents living in the Great Parndon Ward who voted for him in May 2022 to represent them must must surely feel let down by his absence. Also interesting to note that Cllr's Johnson and Perrin did not even give their apologies.

James Leppard
2023-07-24 15:59:10

Nicholas Taylor, the same might be asked of former Labour Councillor John Strachan, who very rarely attended. However, unlike Labour, we considered that was a matter for them to address. We never sought to criticise either him or his party regarding his level of attendance.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-07-24 17:25:13

Well James, two wrongs do not make a right and your Party should have made an issue of it. Unless due to temporary illness, if people find they are not up to the job or the job is not for them, they should resign and give someone else the chance to represent residents. If more people are to be encouraged to come out and vote then they have to be confident that the successful candidate is going to work hard for them in their Ward. Cllr's LeMay, Carter and Johnson should be standing by the dozens of residents objecting to the demolition of Sherards House, to date and only just, has Cllr Carter taken any interest.

Luke Burton
2023-07-24 21:05:59

I don't care what party you are in. If you are not there to represent your constituents then you are an utter disgrace and should be called out. Saying you "never sought to criticise" should not be a badge of honour - you should be grilling Labour for it too.

James Leppard
2023-07-24 21:16:59

Luke Burton, I am not defending either and tend to agree with you. What I find incongruous is the hypocrisy of Harlow Labour.

2023-07-25 07:00:16

ok, so here is a question for Harlow Conservatives. Councillor LeMay is clearly not interested in representing your party or his ward. Therefore, what is your view on this and what do you intend to do about it?

Karl Marx
2023-07-25 09:43:01

Imagine brainwashing The Harlow Working Class into thinking the Conservatives party cares about them, to win the seat, and then the Councillor not even be bothered to continue the lie on. The Corruption Party, sorry I mean The Conservatives Party needs to be kicked out of the Government at all levels. For the many, not the few!

Fix up or Quit, its that simple
2023-07-25 09:52:41

Shameful and an utter disgrace, and still the sheep will vote for the Conservatives... when will people learn! «All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us»

2023-07-25 10:07:02

Conservative councillors we are waiting to hear the answer..................... so here it is again...................... here is a question for Harlow Conservatives. Councillor LeMay is clearly not interested in representing your party or his ward. Therefore, what is your view on this and what do you intend to do about it??????????

2023-07-25 17:43:43

All the usual hypocrisy from the usual ranting far left buffoons. Never uttered a word against the permanently absent Labour councillor for Staple Tye. A complete useless shower!

David Forman
2023-07-25 18:04:03

Councillor James Leppard is absolutely correct about the poor attendance of former Labour councillor John Strachan, which was due to health problems. The Conservative councillors clearly took a very considerate and understanding approach to this situation by not unduly stressing out an unwell man. Credit where credit is due. For the record, I am very sad that John Strachan is no longer in the council chamber.

2023-07-25 22:18:39

Pure and simple call a by-election it's clear that the councillor has little or no interest in representing his constituents

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