A Word in Your Ear from Peter Perrin
“Do you, like me, expect your councillors to fully commit themselves to their council duties and responsibilities and prioritise such duties above other interests they may have?
I ask the question as at least one councillor disagrees and believes her role as “Chair” of the South Ockendon Residents Association [SORA] is more important than her duties as a paid councillor.
At a meeting of SORA on Thursday 3rd November, 2011, at which cllr Sue Gray was present in her role as chair-person, I expressed my surprise at her presence and asked if she would respond to my question, which was:-
“My surprise is occasioned by the fact there is a meeting tonight [3rd November, 2011] at the council offices in Grays of the Health and Well-being Overview & Scrutiny Committee of which you [Cllr Gray] are Vice-Chair. Do you accept your first duty is to attend council meetings, for which you are paid, rather than meetings of SORA?”
Cllr Gray’s response was:-
“I was elected as a councillor in 2008 and I made it absolutely clear then that, if I continued as Chair of SORA, I would always put my duty to SORA first above my duty as a Councillor. That is what I have done and will continue to do.”
She justified her absence from the council committee meeting by nominating another councillor to fill her place. I am informed that her nominee made no contribution to the business of the meeting and seems to have been there simply to make up the number present.
In my opinion, cllr Gray should take note of the fact that, at the most, 20 people voted for her as chair of SORA whereas 786 people voted for her as a councillor in the expectation she would , as promised, represent the people of Belhus, support them and promote and protect their interests.
She should also remember she is being paid from the public purse, i.e.* Council tax money,* so it is reasonable for the voters of Belhus , especially the 786 who actually voted for her, to demand she put her duties and responsibilities as a Councillor above her duties and responsibilities to “outside bodies”.
I trust Cllr Gray will make it quite clear to the voters of Belhus her priorities. i.e. SORA first Council second, when she seeks re-election to the Council in May 2012.
*source – www.thurrock.gov.uk “Allowances and Expenses”. Her income from the public purse for the financial year 2009/2010 was £8,487.43p. Times that amount by four and she will have received an estimated £33,949.72p of public money during her four years as a councillor.
We understand that Sue’s replacement was cllr Angie Gaywood and she certainly contributed at length to the debate.
We are reluctant to add to a persons blog but we have been asked to point out that cllr Gray last week attended two surgeries, a neighbourhood action panel group, a residents association meeting as well as other issues. The committee meeting was usually on a Tuesday but had been moved to a Thursday.