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Leicester city councillors facing a grilling over attendance


Leicester city council Labour group's whip says she has had to "have a word" with some of the party's members about their attendance levels at meetings.

Councillor Barbara Potter, who is in charge of keeping discipline among the 51 Labour members sitting on the authority, said she was concerned a number of them were not going to enough meetings at the Town Hall.

Today, the Leicester Mercury publishes the attendance rates of all the city's politicians for the meetings they were expected to attend, between May last year and Tuesday.

Each member is expected to attend all of the seven full council meetings a year and may sit on one or more committees.

Attendance records are published on the council's website.

Three councillors had a 100 per cent attendance rate over the past 16 months.

A number have been present at about half the meetings they were expected at but said illness affected their attendance.

Coun Potter, who herself has a 97 per cent attendance rate, said: "Councillors have a duty to attend meetings, particularly when they are claiming allowances for them.

"In some cases, they have had health issues that have been cleared with me but for some I have had to have a word because they are not attending enough."

She did not name any particular councillors but Councillor Iqbal Desai, who represents Stoneygate, was asked to resign from the party following concerns about his attendance.

Since May 2011, he has been to 45 of 72 meetings. He was not available for comment yesterday.

Coun Potter said ill health had prevented Anne Glover, who represents Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields, from attending.

Coun Glover, who has a 46 per cent attendance record, said: "I have been seriously ill and I am still unwell.

"I do not like being unable to fire on all cylinders.

"I have discussed this with the whip and said that if I am not right by Christmas I will stand down.

Coun Glover said that there was more to being a councillor than attending meetings.

She said: "I still do a lot in my ward. I do my very best for people in my area and they know that."

Veteran Labour councillor John Thomas, who has a 63 per cent attendance record, agreed. He said he was more concerned about representing and campaigning for people in his Belgrave ward than attending meetings.

He said: "Being on the council is about getting out and working for people, not about sitting in the town hall or Faulty Towers (the nickname for the city council's soon to be demolished New Walk headquarters) firing off e-mails and trying to look important."

Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Porter, who represents Aylestone, disputed his attendance figures as they appeared on the city council's website.

He was recorded as attending 54 of 87 meetings.

He said: "That's just not right. I'm down as being on committees I am not a member of and attending some meetings that I know I have not been to.

" I'll be taking it up with officers because my attendance is higher than it suggests."

The Mercury tried to contact a number of other councillors with lower attendance records, including former leader Veejay Patel and ex-lord mayor Rob Wann, but they were unavailable.

Castle ward councillor Neil Clayton attended all 43 of the meetings he was due at.

He said: "I don't find the meetings onerous.

"I am fortunate because, as chairman of a scrutiny commission, those meetings can only happen when I can be there.

"I also work in the city and don't have the family commitments some other councillors do. Some have had a pretty awful run with health and I have been lucky in that respect."

A city council spokeswoman said the authority had no power to make members attend meetings, but anyone who did not attend a meeting in six months would be struck off unless they had an approved reason for not turning up.

ATTENDANCE: Council Meetings April 30, 2011 to October 9, 2012
Councillor Ward Expected Attended %
Alfonso (Lab) New Parks 49 49 100
Aqbany (Lab) Spinney Hills 33 25 75
Bajaj (Lab) Evington 37 35 95
Barton (Lab) Western Park 86 82 95
Bhatti (Lab) Rushey Mead 46 41 89
Bhavsar (Lab) Abbey 49 39 80
Byrne (Lab) Abbey 51 50 98
Cassidy (Lab) Fosse 35 33 94
Chaplin (Lab) Stoneygate 48 39 81
Chowdhury (Lab) Spinney Hills 67 61 91
Clair (Lab) Rushey Mead 42 34 81
Clark (Lab) Aylestone 42 35 83
Clayton (Lab) Castle 43 43 100
Cleaver (Lab) Eyres Monsell 43 39 91
Cole (Lab) Western Park 28 21 75
Connelly (Lab) Westcotes 70 57 81
Cooke (Lab) Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields 69 57 83
Corrall (Lab) New Parks 69 57 83
Cutkelvin (Lab) Freemen 27 23 85
Dawood (Lab) Spinney Hills 46 41 89
Dempster (Lab) Beaumont Leys 34 33 97
Desai (Ind) Stoneygate 72 45 63
Fonseca (Lab) Thurncourt 45 39 87
Glover (Lab) Braunstone Park and Rowley 69 32 46
Grant (Con) Knighton 53 37 70
Gugnani (Lab) Knighton 54 47 87
Joshi (Lab) Belgrave 69 49 71
Kamal (Lab) Stoneygate 38 31 82
Kitterick (Lab) Castle 62 53 85
Marriott (Lab) Abbey 50 40 80
Mayat (Lab) Coleman 53 41 77
Meghani (Lab) Beaumont Leys 41 39 95
Moore (Lab) Knighton 73 68 93
Naylor (Lab) Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields 87 80 92
Newcombe (Lab) Charnwood 35 35 100
Osman (Lab) Charnwood 37 28 76
Palmer (Lab) Eyres Monsell 40 34 85
Patel V (Lab) Latimer 23 14 61
Patel R (Lab) Humberstone and Hamilton 45 38 84
Porter (Lib Dem) Aylestone 87 54 62
Potter (Lab) Humberstone and Hamilton 58 56 97
Russell (Lab) Westcotes 35 28 80
Sandhu (Lab) Humberstone and Hamilton 47 25 53
Sangster (Lab) Coleman 45 34 76
Senior (Lab) Castle 29 28 97
Shelton (Lab) Freeman 74 55 74
Singh (Lab) Evington 48 45 94
Sood (Lab) Latimer 51 50 98
Soulsby (Lab) N/A 38 37 97
Thomas (Lab) Belgrave 59 37 63
Unsworth (Lab) New Parks 62 54 87
Waddington (Lab) Fosse 48 44 92
Wann (Lab) Thurncourt 17 11 65
Westley (Lab) Beaumont Leys 72 59 82
Willmott (Lab) Rushey Mead 58 55 95
Source: Leicester City Council

Leicester city councillors facing a grilling over attendance

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