How contactable is your Brent councillor?

Left to right: Councillors Paul Lorber, Muhammed Butt and Suresh Kasagra

Left to right: Councillors Paul Lorber, Muhammed Butt and Suresh Kasagra - Credit: Archant

Brent residents may find it difficult to contact their ward councillors directly as data reveals that a number of council members have withheld direct contact information.

The council website allows borough residents to search and contact councillors representing their ward.

However, less than half have put their mobile –business or personal- in the public domain, with under 40 and 30 per cent unwilling to release their home address and direct landline respectively.

Seven councillors have omitted information that would allow their constituents to contact them directly –excluding their council email addresses.

Five from this figure are from the Liberal Democrats, including Paul Lorber, who is leader of the group in Brent.

Of the 15 Liberal Democrats representing wards in the borough, nine chose not to release details of their home address, six provided a mobile contact and four provided a home telephone line.

In contrast, out of the 40 Labour councillors, 13 withheld their personal address, 23 released a mobile number and 18 revealed their personal landlines.

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In the Conservatives camp, which has only seven serving members, only one member withheld all personal information and another didn’t provide their home address. Two released their mobile number and five their landlines.

Alex Colas, who is standing as an independent for Willesden Green ward at the council election, on May 22, said it is important for constituents to contact their councillor easily.

He said: If you want to get in touch with your local councillor, you should be able to – within reason.

“Different people have different methods in doing so but the bottom line is that people should be able to speak directly with their representing councillor.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “People should be able to contact us directly but we also have to bear in mind that a lot of councillors work for a living.”

Adding that some people have unrealistic expectations of their councillors, he continued: “People like myself and other lead members have extra responsibility and should be more available than other councillors but not for 24 hours a day because we are entitled to some private time with our families.”

“It is a delicate balance. We are elected into our positions so if people want to get a hold of us they should be able to.”

However, Cllr Suresh Kansagra, leader of the Brent Tories, who had revealed his personal details on the council site, believes councillors should be open with their contact details because they have been elected to the position.

“I think they [councillors] should be openly available to their constituents at suitable times. That is why they were elected in the first place,” he said.

Cllr Lorber said that most of the contact with his constituents is via email.

He added: “I would be more concerned if a resident’s issue or complaint is not being dealt with than if they can’t get a hold of their specific ward councillor.”

Adding that some councillors are in “high pressure jobs”, he continued: “There will be occasions where one councillor would be on holiday, but we always make sure that there is a replacement.

“I think that people have unrealistic expectations of what councillors should do. What people need to understand is that councillors do not have all the answer but we will be happy to direct you to the people who can help.”

Click here to find your councillor’s contact details.

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