'Overstaffed' Rotherham councillors: no meetings for 11 weeks

'Overstaffed' Rotherham councillors: no meetings for 11 weeks

By Gareth Dennison | 02/04/2019

'Overstaffed' Rotherham councillors: no meetings for 11 weeks
Mick Sylvester

THE number of councillors with no meetings for 11 weeks highlights Rotherham’s “overstaffed” council chamber, an independent campaigner says.

Mick Sylvester, of Thrybergh, said the 76-day gap for four members threw up questions over how residents were being represented by RMBC.

He added: “This again shows the level of underemployment and overstaffing in one council department...the actual council chamber.

“You need to remember that the councillors in question continue to receive their allowances to compensate for time taken off work to attend to council duties, which for 76 days equates to £2,388.”

The four members without a timetabled meeting on the RMBC calendar between the end of February and the annual meeting in May are Labour members Cllr Taiba Yasseen, Cllr Ann Russell and Cllr Leon Allcock plus Lib Dem Cllr Adam Carter.

Mr Sylvester said: “While being a councillor is not all about attending meetings, the council chamber is where decisions are made.

“If we have councillors going such long periods without having to be in the room we have to ask serious questions about how the council is organised, how communities are represented and if we are getting value for money from low-attending councillors.”

Council leader Cllr Chris Read responded, saying: “Much of the work of a councillor is not done in formal meetings, with advice surgeries and community engagements making up an important part of the role.

“None of these or other external formal meetings are recorded on the calendar that Mr Sylvester refers to. 

“However, we have made it much easier over the last few years for residents to see what commitments their councillor has in the town hall and the work they are doing in their own neighbourhood, and anyone can find this via the council’s website. 

“This may not have been the case when Mr Sylvester was himself a councillor some years ago, during which time the council’s records suggest that he was missing from more than 40 per cent of the council and scrutiny meetings he was expected to attend.”

The number of councillors is set to fall from 63 to 59 when the next local elections happen in May 2020.

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