political

Labour’s councillors in New Cross go missing from meetings

The Lewisham News Shopper reports:

MEET the councillor who is paid £4,906 for every meeting he attends and his footie mad colleague – you probably won’t clap eyes on them anywhere else.

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Councillor Stephen Padmore [Labour, New Cross], who has attended only two of the 33 meetings he was expected at from June 1 2011 to June 1 this year.

Even Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock was forced to admit last week he had not heard from the New Cross ward councillor…

Cllr Padmore was unavailable for comment – he did not answer his phone and his Lewisham Council email inbox was full.

Quite what the full story here is rather unclear, and it’s possible this is a case in which some sympathy is appropriate (perhaps a family crisis or a personal health issue is involved?). However, a year is a very long time for such very low attendance, and if someone isn’t able to continue as a councillor then even leaving aside the issue of the continuing payments to them, it is only fair to their residents for them to step aside.

And he’s not the only Labour councillor to have questions over their attendance record:

Cllr Padmore, needless to say, was not present [at the meeting at which his non-attendance was raised], but fellow ward councillor and serial absentee Cllr Madeliene Long was – at least until she nipped out to watch the football.

In the last six months of 2011, Cllr Long attended just three out of her 10 meetings, though she has upped her appearances this year.

At last week’s meeting, while councillors discussed the ongoing problems of betting shops in Deptford – the ward neighbouring Cllr Long’s – News Shopper found her in the lobby watching the climax of Italy vs Germany in the Euro 2012 championships on the council TV.

Her attendance record has been under fire before, as in 2010:

A COUNCILLOR who represents a murder hotspot has been criticised for not attending any crime-fighting meetings.

And she also failed to respond to News Shopper, despite numerous attempts to contact her.

Lib Dem leader in Lewisham, Chris Maines, is not impressed:

Cllr Maines told News Shopper: “Cllr Padmore’s pay per meeting rivals that of most city bankers for exploiting the public. He should either resign or pull his finger out.”

Cllr Long’s poor record has been partly blamed on her chairing of South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, for which she receives a salary of between £55,000 and £60,000.

But Cllr Maines said: “If she can’t manage both, she’s got to give one up.”