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Controversy over attendance of South Kesteven District Councillors

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Controversy has risen over a suggestion that poorly councillors should stand down, with one saying the idea was “disgraceful”.

South Kesteven District Councillors Judy Smith and Rosemary Kaberry-Brown have been unable to attend meetings for the last six months due to health reasons.

On Monday they were given permission to miss meetings for another six months to stop them being struck off.

Councillor Ashley Baxter. (54509689)
Councillor Ashley Baxter. (54509689)

A councillor suggested that residents would be better served if they stepped aside, but others responded that the job was about "more than rocking up to meetings".

Councillor Ashley Baxter, leader of the newly formed Alliance SK group, put the question to a full council meeting.

He said: "These are both honourable and outspoken councillors who are well-respected and have served for more than 20 years.

Judy Smith
Judy Smith

"However, as this is the second six-month dispensation that has been given, it sadly seems they are unable to perform the duties which they were elected to.

"I asked a social media group of my constituents whether they supported more dispensation being given.

"78 per cent of the 300 people who voted said they should retire and by-elections should be held.

"We have to ask whether residents are being represented in the way that they expect in meetings.

Councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown. (58242756)
Councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown. (58242756)

"I don’t wish to be mean but residents need someone to perform the roles.

"Perhaps councillors could be given the title of Honorary Alderman."

Coun Smith is a member for Bourne East and Coun Kaberry-Brown represents Peascliffe and Ridgeway.

Coun Sue Woolley (56366224)
Coun Sue Woolley (56366224)

The absent councillors, both Conservatives, were fiercely defended by their colleagues, who said they were still working hard.

Councillor Sue Woolley (Con) said: "To assume they aren’t doing the job because they aren’t in the room is nonsense.

"It’s disgraceful to suggest that just because they can’t come to meetings that they aren’t doing the work.

"Councillor Judy Smith is still leading by example."

Councillor Helen Crawford (Con) said: "I know Councillor Smith well, and she is still very much involved with constituents. She gets more calls than BT."

Councillor Kaffy Rice-Oxley (Con) agreed, saying that "there is more to being a councillor than rocking up to meetings".

Members of the council were told that both councillors would hope to return to meetings soon.

After the meeting, Coun Richard Cleaver (Ind) suggested the council report should have been amended before the debate to reflect the fact that both councillors are continuing to work behind the scenes.

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