Councillors in the news: Barnet and Stoke

Via Liberal England we have:

Golders Green Tory Christopher Harris has been travelling Down Under since July on an “extended holiday” but has still managed to hang on to his job.

Despite being 10,000 miles away in a country with a 10-hour time difference, Cllr Harris is still claiming more than £800 a month in a council allowance to serve residents.

And then via Pits’n’Pots:

Mike Barnes’s future as Labour Group Leader [in Stoke-on-Trent] hangs in the balance as the party’s National Executive have placed him under ‘administrative suspension’ with immediate effect.

Yesterday, Mike Barnes admitted to impersonating someone from this website to try and find information about a rumoured news story in Cheshire West and Chester council.

A BBC investigation has concluded that Barnes told a member of the communications department at Cheshire West and Chester council that he was representing a news website in Stoke-on-Trent. He also admitted that he used a false name.

Barnes denies claiming that he was from BBC Radio Stoke but admitted to me yesterday that he had claimed to represent Pits’n’Pots and in doing so he used a false name.

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  • He’s resigned as Labour leader, and from the Labour Party. He now sits as a ‘Non-aligned’ Councillor.

  • Duncan Macdonald 9th Oct '09 - 6:16pm

    Yes Golders Green is in Barnet. The Tories have withdrawn the whip from Cllr Harris.

  • I don’t wish to rush to the aid of a Tory councillor, but in these days of international economies and far-flung families I wonder whether we should have some provision in places (within reason) for cases where councillors are abroad on business or on once-in-a-lifetime holidays or visiting relatives etc etc ?

    Don’t know how it could be done but I recall a former colleague who shortly after a slightly unexpected victory went off on a long-arranged lecture tour of the USA. Hardly outrageous, and on her return she served her constituents very effectively.

  • David from Ealing 9th Oct '09 - 9:23pm

    No problem about the trip, but is it fair to claim the allowance for being a councillor when you can’t do the job?

  • No. That’s why we need some rules.

  • It looks like MP’s expenses are coming to the forefront of the media, and I hope that the Lib Dems can take advantage of this, and push for reform (about which the other parties have gone strangely silent!)

  • Tory Christopher Harris is not the only absentee councillor in the news. Former Mayor of Slough, Cllr Latif Khan (Independent) has been on extended leave in Pakistan between January and September. Only returning in May to attend a meeting, in so doing he qualified himself to continue drawing his allowance . In all he has missed 12 of the 14 meetings he was scheduled to attend. The last meeting he attended was upon his return.

    Khan is a member of an opposition grouping of Liberal Democrat, Liberal and various shades of Independent councillors. Not one word of criticism has been forthcoming from his compatriots including the LibDems.

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