The Council meeting, 22nd March 2023, was shocking. The shock didn’t come from what was said or discussed. It was because so many councillors didn’t turn up. Out of 54 councillors only 47 appeared. This an absentee rate of 13%. Or, as HR experts call it: ‘A Red Flag’ event. What’s going on? Councillors aren’t amateurs, they’re paid £200 pw as an allowance. They aren’t contracted to do any specific hours but attend a minimum number of meetings per year. Council meetings are their only obligation.
Provoked by this I researched the three months from 1st January 2023.2 The Council meeting, 18th January 2023, had two non-appearances.3 The all-important budget setting meeting, 1st March 2023, is a ‘three-line-whip’ event. Seven councillors were absent from the meeting that set Council Tax for the year 2023-4.4 That decision affects every resident in Havering. And seven councillors didn’t turn up!
On consecutive Council meetings, seven members were absent. There shouldn’t have been any absentees without exceptional circumstances. But 16 different councillors missed three Council meetings. This is worrying.
They couldn’t all have been taken suddenly ill: Could they?
1 Agenda for Council on Wednesday, 22nd March, 2023, 7.30 pm | The London Borough Of Havering p1 Absentees were Councillors Osman Dervish, Brian Eagling, Sarah Edwards, James Glass, Linda Hawthorn, Robby Misir and Susan Ospreay.
2 For January go to Monthly meetings calendar – January 2023 | The London Borough Of Havering Follow links for the next two months, or trace backwards for previous months. Research completed on 27th March 2023
3 Councillors David Godwin and John Wood
4 Councillors Dilip Patel, Robert Benham, Patricia Brown, Christine Vickery, Viddy Persaud, Carol Smith and Joshua Chapman