WE HAVE BEEN running a number of stories on the absentee Ockendon councillor over the last year.
Many people will have come across cllr Aaron Kiely for the first time when reading the articles in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
We first spoke to Aaron before he was a councillor. Indeed his credentials were that of a Green Party supporter who was a student at the University of Kent.
When he was selected and campaigning, we were impressed (no that that counts for anything!). And once elected and once out serving his constituents, he seemed really keen: turning up to community forums, residents associations as well as council meetings.
But as soon as cllr Kiely took on (and then won) the challenge of becoming a Black Students Officer for the National Union of Students, it almost appeared as if he was taken on a new character, almost a method politician.
Every tweet, every public utterance seemed to be designed to illustrate his empathy for his fellow black friends, students and colleagues.
That would have been fine and indeed none of our business but as this intensified so running parallel was a cooling off of his work in Ockendon until, as of now, it had completely disappeared.
No attendance in January, February, March, June, July, August and September has been well documented as does the going rate of £7k for one half hour annual mayor making in May.
But even then, Aaron looked like a youngster who was made to sit at a boring meeting his parents were at.
As we have said before, the people voted for Aaron Kiely in May 2011 and they will get an opportunity in May 2015.
As long as he attends one meeting every six months, then he can remain a councillor. He could be bunged out of the Labour group or sit as an independent etc. but nevertheless, the law is the law and he can sit tight and take another £32,000 worth of taxpayers money.
And that is the nub. For all his radical posturing, there are people who are really really struggling out there. People in Ockendon who cannot feed their kids, who are living the lives of quiet and not so quiet desperation.
Let us put it in perspective. Of the 8,000 people in Ockendon, the vast majority of people neither know nor care about Aaron Kiely.
All they know is that the petrol is getting more expensive, the food bill is going up. People are anxious about the disability living allowances or the jobseekers or the damp in their homes.
For others, it is about chasing invoices, the next tax bill in January.
And for others it is their child’s welfare and whether the streets are safe to walk in.
It is a shame. Aaron does seem to be an intelligent young man. His argument and essays are articulate and well structured. You don’t have to agree with him, you may find the questioning of Abu Hamza’s extradition, repugnant, but again, he is free to express himself, within the law.
And yes, Aaron has now got the loonie left/radical student badge of honour by being in the Daily Mail. He will have been lauded by colleagues and his phone and e-mails going like a fair with messages of Verenceremos and solidarity etc and eta (sic).
And he may well stick it out as we said, flourish as a student politico and move up the ranks.
But we will always remember, that on the day you were elected, the proudest person in that room, was Aaron’s mother. Wonder what Carol Kiely thinks of all this?
Right, we have wasted 600 words on this matter but when you are one of those small businesses, spending thousands on petrol and chasing invoices as well as seeing local councillors who work really hard, the case of comrade Kiely really pushes our buttons.