Harlow Labour continue to put pressure on Tories over no-show councillor

Politics / Fri 29th Dec 2023 at 10:46am

A SENIOR Harlow Labour councillor has continued to put pressure on the ruling Conservative group over what constitutes attendance.

Although he is not directly referenced, Cllr Morrisons’s line of inquiry may be connected to the attendance record of Great Parndon councillor, SteveLeMay.

In July, he sat in the public gallery of a planning meeting. It was the first meeting he had been present at since Dec 2022.

His presence meant he had attended a meeting and so could retain his seat.

Since then he did not attend any meetings until December, where he once again sat in the gallery of a planning meeting and once again, his attendance meant he could continue sitting as a ward councillor.

Councillor Kay Morrison’s questioned it in July and at the last council meeting, returned to it again.

Cllr Morrison said: “Some time ago I asked for a definition of committee attendance as applied to
an elected Harlow District councillor.

At that time, I read aloud the Local Government Association’s advice: that a committee member sitting in the public area for a short time, without participating, while the committee meeting
conducts its business is not recognised as attendance.

That’s unsurprising but the response to my question was very surprising.

“I was told that the LGA is wrong and that a councillor does not have to sit amongst the rest of the
committee or, indeed, to appear to participate in any way.

Understandably, Harlow residents are perplexed, observing that a councillor
is elected to play a full part in every required area.

One resident exclaimed ‘That’s why you’re elected!’

Well, yes…. I agreed to ask again, this time in pursuit of greater clarity. Do you seriously believe that non-participation and distancing oneself from the committee members and discussion constitute attendance?

If so, how many councillors can sit amongst the audience? All of us? We would count as
attendees, after all, according to your interpretation.

Reply from Councillor Dan Swords (Leader of the Council):

“In my previous answer I did not state that the Guidance was wrong. I said the Council defines attendance at meetings in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972, which it continues to do.

Any Councillor can attend meetings and observe. Indeed, many members attend meetings and do not say anything at all – or are you suggesting there should be a requirement for each member to verbally contribute, otherwise the only distinction is where in the room their seat is placed.

Film of the full exchange is below.

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11 Comments for Harlow Labour continue to put pressure on Tories over no-show councillor:

Bruce Downey
2023-12-29 11:40:27

Dman, wasted no time at all demoting councillor Stacy Seales, for expressing her views on your Harlow. ( travesty of justice) Now a councillor who says nothing! because he’s rarely there.. no problem for Dman.🙄

Luke Burton
2023-12-29 12:22:50

Steve LeMay is just another example of local government in action. Toytown parliament aka the "council chamber" with a toytown cabinet with about as much power and influence as a school council and a toytown speaker called the "Chair" with fancy gold chains.

Richard Porter
2023-12-29 13:10:05

The problem is voters if a councillor does not turn up very often in local councils they get ……….er re elected.! The public get the lical politicians they deserve .

Nicholas Taylor
2023-12-29 13:51:00

Being a Councillor will of course involve taking up seats on committees such as Development Control and Licencing and on outside bodies where they are supposed to represent residents. Cllr LeMay has not done any of this and because he has only sat in the public gallery he has not said a single word on behalf of the residents living in the Great Parndon Ward. This is quite simply a disgrace and the fact that Cllr Swords condones this situation does nothing to instil confidence in his leadership of the Council. I as the Harlow Alliance Party (HAP) Candidate in this Ward, as have other members of HAP attended many meetings, asked many questions of Councillors and represented many residents with issues they have with the Council. It is surely time for change at Harlow Council.

Alderman Durcan
2023-12-29 15:42:52

Situations like this drag us all down. It’s clear there is a backstory to his decision ,but the way this has been dealt with has been terrible by the leadership. They are holding out until May and suspect they feel this issue will simply disappear. I hope one day we will hear the truth as what happened. In the mean time this continues to damage the current fragile trust that the community have with the council. No new hospital, no new school and now no new housing. Confident just like the Tory county council who suddenly repair pot holes we will have some new developments appearing. The best time to get anything is election time it appears Cynical but sadly true.

2023-12-29 19:14:31

The leader of Harlow Tories should show some real leadership and a by-election be called as LeMay clearly has no time or inclination in actively representing his constituency.

2023-12-29 23:15:27

This is a perfect example of how to take the piss and abuse your position and still keep all of your privileges at the same time, turn up once every 8 months say and do nothing then off you pop and repeat 8 months later with what seems like the full backing of your fellow Tory Councillors while JH and RS are all for forcing disabled people back into work, Vote Conservative FXXK OFF!

2023-12-30 01:40:32

Alderman Duncan. The community have no faith in any of you and whilst the council are full of clowns they never will. We need vocal people that stand up for us and do as we ask. Not lie and cheat all throughout their tenures. Come the election and let the people vote for who are honest and reliable.

2023-12-30 07:52:51

We elect councillors, it’s implicit they attend meeting and participate, not just simply be present , that’s not representing our areas it’s just observing. In any other form of “ manager “ role ( which this effectively is) it would not be allowed. He’s not my area councillor but if he were I would ask he be removed from the post.and someone who was willing to take it seriously were elected in his stead.

2023-12-30 08:51:37

Councillor Swords, weak and obtuse argument, weak and obtuse leadership, weak and obtuse local government. This situation degrades democracy, degrades respect and degrades your office and is an insult to the Harlow electorate. I would suggest you deal with this obscene and unacceptable situation as a matter of priority… or are you and your colleagues afraid of someone/something?

2023-12-30 17:40:39

That's the very reason I no longer waste my time voting in General or Local elections. Tory, Labour and all the rest. Sadly. they are all liars, cheats and vagabonds who really don't give a damn about anyone other than themselves. The Tories are the leaders of the pack. Boris Johnson and Party Gate. This A**Hole LeMay is just another oxygen thief. I rest my case.

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