Labour group in Northampton hit back at criticism over councillors attendance records

Gareth Eales NNL-150119-155322001
Gareth Eales NNL-150119-155322001

The Labour Group on Northamptonshire County Council are seeking an amendment to the recording of attendances at full council meetings as “many councillors leave meeting halfway through and play on their iPads”.

On Saturday, the Conservative Group on Northampton Borough Council highlighted the attendance records of a number of Labour councillors to full council meetings in the past six months.

Borough councillor Joy Capstick (Labour, Talavera) has been automatically removed from the council after she failed to attend any council meeting for the past six months. Councillor Capstick said she had been rehabilitating from a serious injury suffered last August.

Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Dallington/Spencer) said he believed that a number of county councillors were leaving the meetings at lunchtime and missing key debates and votes.

Councillor Eales also claimed that some councillors were not paying attention in meetings and “playing around” with phones and tablets.

He said: “I think the conduct of certain councillors with senior roles on other authorities is shocking to just up and leave the meeting at half time. But the failure to focus on events whilst they are there is contemptuous.

“We recently had a fabulous presentation at full council from the Northamptonshire Young Leaders and certain Councillors, in particular councillor David Mackintosh did not even look up from his phone and tablet and couldn’t even bring himself to applaud these fine young people’s efforts, which was deplorable.

“I raised concerns on this at the time with the Chair of the Council and Group Business Managers, but we as a Labour Group feel we need more robust monitoring of attendance and conduct in the Chamber to ensure Councillor propriety.”

Labour’s leader on the Council, Cllr John McGhee (Lab, Kingswood), said: “It is sheer hypocrisy for David Mackintosh to play politics with attendance records for elected members on one council, but then to leave meetings part way through himself on a different authority.

“He’s trying to grab headlines in the run up to the General Election and the electorate will see through this.

“As a group, we are calling for improved attendance monitoring and better conduct in Council meetings from now on. It’s simply not good enough that members can leave meetings halfway through without good reason or be playing on their iPads/ phones throughout important debates and discussions.”

Councillor Mackintosh said: “No amount of smoke and mirrors from Labour can detract from their woeful attendance record on the Borough Council.

“I am happy to support anything that gives wider scrutiny to attendance at council meetings, and I look forward to debating this issue with Cllr Eales at the full council meeting at The Guildhall this evening.”