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Four Brent councillors in no show for half their meetings

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 May 2011

Cllr Hayley Matthews failed to show up at 67 per cent of her meetings

Cllr Hayley Matthews failed to show up at 67 per cent of her meetings

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Lib-Dem representatives top shame chart

Four councillors have failed to turn up to at least half of their council meetings in the last six months, the Times can reveal.

The borough’s youngest councillors, Cllr Hayley Matthews and Cllr Simon Green, Lib Dem councillors for Mapesbury and Queen’s Park respectively, are included in the red-faced quartet.

According to Brent Council’s website, Cllr Matthews is the worst offender after missing 67 per cent of her meetings followed by Cllr Bhiku Patel, Conservative councillor in Kenton, who failed to attend 53 per cent, since last November.

In a further twist, Cllr Matthews has not turned up at any of the three children and young people overview and scrutiny committee meetings that have taken place since last December.

At a time of proposed cuts to local services, Cllr Chris Leaman, Lib Dem councillor for Mapesbury and Cllr Green missed half of their council meetings, raising questions about how well the Labour-run council can be scrutinised if members of other parties are not present to voice their concerns.

All 63 councillors in the borough claim an annual basic allowance of £7,895 per year with those carrying extra roles entitled to further payment.

The four named are entitled to the basic allowance only.

Despite our individual requests for a comment, only one councillor would return our calls.

Cllr Bhiku Patel explained the reason for missing a number of meetings were holidays taken at the end of 2010 and at the start of this year, which he had already booked, as well as school governors meetings.

He said: “I need to be careful in future that I have to attend meetings and I’m trying to be a good councillor.”

A spokesman for the Brent Liberal Democrats said the council website’s figures didn’t give a full picture of what a councillor does or the committees they attend.

He added: “Many councillors attend committees which aren’t included in the figures and often they send alternates if they can’t make it.

“Often councillors will find a clash between council meetings and local residents meetings, which they have to prioritise.”

A spokeswoman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, a lobbying group that campaigns against the wastage of public funds said: “Taxpayers will feel let down as these elected representatives can’t pursue residents’ interests if they aren’t at most meetings.”

A spokesman for Brent Council refuted claims the website was incorrect.

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