Dawn raids, rent arrears, previous convictions: Should new Tilbury councillor stand down?

CALLS have been made for a new Tilbury councillor to stand down, after a series of revelations highlighted a number of crisis in her life that some say hinder her ability to fulfill her duties as a councillor.

Mother-of-ten, councillor Baldwin was elected in May after years of behind the scenes work for the Labour Party but soon after it was revealed that her council laptop “went missing”.

According to reports, cllr Baldwin had to pay a sum of money to get it back.

The theft was the culmination of a number of events that have now seen calls for her to stand down until events at home are more on an even keel.

It has been revealed that cllr Baldwin owes the council thousands in back rent. She also has massive council tax arrears.

Cllr Baldwin also faces serious problems in getting some of her children to school regularly. YT understands that educational welfare officers made a series of dawn raids to her property. Events culminated in her being charged and convicted under Section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996, for failing to ensure that her child attends school regularly.

The loss of the laptop appears to have been the tipping point for many in the council as it sparked a security alert in civic offices with all councillors receiving instructions from council bosses on ensuring the safety and security of their laptops.

Keith Hatcher was the Independent candidate for Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park who came second to cllr Baldwin in Mays council elections. He said he is shocked by the revelations.

Mr Hatcher said: ‘There has to be a by-election. How can a councillor be in the chamber discussing what they do with taxpayers money when she infact owes thousands herself.

“I have every sympathy for Claire. Indeed, I blame her Labour bosses who must have known this would all come up.”

YT has asked a number of Labour sources including cllr Baldwin who sat on her selection panel but nobody could recall.

Cllr Baldwin has issued a personal statement.

Cllr Baldwin said:  “As many people will be aware I am a single mother with ten children. I have been a single parent for five years since my husband – the father of my children – left the family home.

“This time has been a terrible struggle for me and my family and I have fought to keep the family together and bring up my children to the very best of my ability. I have had support from friends and colleagues – without who we may not have survived in tact.

“I have, however, made some mistakes along the way. Mistakes I readily admit to and am working hard to put right.

“At times two of my children have not attended school regularly and I have paid the price for this having been convicted in court. Currently another of my children is causing me – and the authorities – concern over his attendance record. I am working with the authorities to ensure he is at school every day.

“I have also built up arrears in both my Council Tax and Council Housing Rent accounts. I am paying these arrears off in a way that satisfies the Council debt collection policies and have asked for no favours nor to be treated any differently to any other resident who finds themselves in arrears with Council Tax or Rent.

“I was proud to be elected to serve the residents of Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park and believe the experiences I have gone through have made me a stronger person and better equipped to understand and deal with the problems they bring to me on a daily basis.

‘I remain proud to represent the people of Tilbury and am absolutely committed to doing it to the very best of my ability.

Labour leader John Kent has defended the beleaguered councillor.

He said: Claire has ten children and gave careful consideration to how she would combine being a busy mother with council duties. As such Claire  ensures she gives around four hours a day to dealing with casework and council issues, ensuring she is finished in time for collecting the children from their various schools.

As a back bench councillor Claire’s duties are mainly around representing her constituents in Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park. Claire has shown real dedication to this role, holding regular advice surgeries and being seen about the ward on a daily basis. Claire deals with around twenty, separate items of case work every week.

Asked if she would be standing down, cllr Kent said: No. Claire was elected with a resounding majority and should be allowed to get on with the job she was elected to do – representing the residents of Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park.

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