Lichfield councillor: Missed meetings were not simply a case of just not turning up

A Lichfield councillor says missing a number of council meetings was not simply a case of him “just not turning up”.

Cllr Alan White made his comments after defending his attendance record at Lichfield District Council.

Figures showed he had attended just 55% of meetings between May 2016 and March 2017.

Alan White

Cllr Alan White

But Cllr White insisted his absences had not been as a result of “just not turning up”.

“I am also a county councillor and hold the portfolio for health, care and wellbeing,” he said.

“This past year has been particularly busy – around £15million we expected to receive from the NHS for the Better Care Fund was not delivered, resulting in some additional work and changes to services that we provide, and the creation of the sustainability and transformation plan resulted in many meetings about the future of health and social care in Staffordshire.

“I also have work commitments and family commitments, but because Lichfield District Council meets in the evenings, I am usually able to avoid clashes.

“I missed three full council meetings during the reporting period. On May 17, 2016, I had been summoned to the Department of Health and the Department of Local Government in London for a meeting to find a way forward for the Better Care Fund impasse. On July 12, 2016, I was with colleagues explaining the future of Health and Social care at meeting at Keele University. On February 21, 2017, I was meeting with the Chairs of the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent health care system to build relationships as part of the sustainability and transformation plan.

“I missed two scrutiny committee meetings during the reporting period. For one I was presenting a business innovation award at the Worcester Arena, and for the other I was attending a board meeting at work.

“I hope this gives some context and illustrates it was more than ‘he just didn’t show up’.”

Despite his county council work preventing attendance at some district council meetings, Cllr White – who faces losing a month’s worth of allowances due to having been at less than 75% of sessions – believes having a foot in both camps is a good thing for residents.

“I do think it is important to have strong connections between both councils,” he said. “Many people I speak to don’t recognise the distinction between the two, and tend to simply refer to ‘the council’.

“In areas and at times where there haven’t been strong relationships between the two tiers, understanding and trust often breaks down to the detriment of the citizens we represent.

“I do believe that in a representative democracy we need people from all walks of life with many different backgrounds and interests – that gives us a chance of making better decisions.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

6 Comments

  1. CitizenKane

    20th March, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Maybe Councillors should restrict their involvement to one Council only. Clearly Cllr White , and probably others too, are stretching themselves too thinly. We accept that they have a right to family life and have work commitments but the electorate expect full commitment. To be a member of LDC and Staffs CC is obviously placing too many demands on Cllr White…..how about relinquishing one of these roles and truly committing to the remaining one?

  2. Adam Elsdon

    20th March, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    CitizenKane, that was my thought exactly, not only are his multiple council commitments taking his time but also his work commitments i.e. presenting awards at business events in Worcester (http://hwchamber.co.uk/events/awards) that cost £990 for a table of ten to attend as opposed to attending a scrutiny committee meeting here in Lichfield.

    It boils down to priorities and what Councillor White thinks is important, was Lichfield District Council business a priority, no it was not.

    His statement:

    “I do believe that in a representative democracy we need people from all walks of life with many different backgrounds and interests – that gives us a chance of making better decisions”

    Makes for an articulate soundbite, so how about giving up one of your elected positions to somebody who can put in the interest, effort and commitment the post really deserves councillor White?

  3. CitizenKane

    20th March, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Adam – I suspect that these self-serving Councillors will not give up any roles in case someone who replaces them makes a constructive contribution and gets something done. We can but hope.

    Rob – do we know which LDC Councillors also sit on other Councils? I guess some sit on LDC, Lichfield City Council/Burntwood Town Council and Staffs CC.

  4. A Better Burntwood

    21st March, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    You should also keep in mind the payments/salary/tax-money they get given for sitting on Lichfield and Staffordshire. Lichfield is around £3,500~? and Staffs would be alot more

    Ofcourse, Parish councils need not pay members, after all these councils should just be a collection of local citizens (avoiding party politics)

    In regards to the multi-seat councillors, the comments so far have been right. When you sit on more than 1 seat, your representation becomes diluted, and you no longer share the views of your core area easily.

  5. Sue Woodward

    23rd March, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    At the risk of sticking my neck out, I have to say that (even tho we’re are in different Parties) I have a great deal of respect for Cllr White and his work-rate. Some councillors achieve more in a few minutes than others do in years.

  6. Rob

    23rd March, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Agree witht the above comments re multi-seat councillors.
    Must be quite a cosy little number drawing expenses from various public pots, even better when there’s more than one family member.

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