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Burntwood Town Council insists living 190 miles away does not stop councillor being an “active member”

Residents have been told that living 190 miles away does not prevent a councillor from being an “active member” of Burntwood Town Council.

Cllr Brenda Rigby who now lives 190 miles away from the Burntwood Town Council offices

Cllr Brenda Rigby who now lives 190 miles away from the Burntwood Town Council offices

Cllr Brenda Rigby, who represents the Conservatives in the Summerfield and All Saints ward, has changed her address to one in Alston, Cumbria.

There have been calls for Cllr Rigby to stand down, but a statement from Burntwood Town Council said that she continued to be an active member.

“Cllr Brenda Rigby was elected as a Member for the Summerfield and All Saints Ward at the parish council elections in May 2015,” the statement said. “Subsequent to those elections she has moved and her new address is shown on the Burntwood Town Council website.

“Cllr Rigby continues to be an active member of the town council and her change of address does not alter that.”

Cllr Darren Ennis

But Labour councillor Darren Ennis, who lives in Cllr Rigby’s ward, said living at least a three-and-a-half hour drive away from the council’s headquarters at the Old Mining College meant it was unfair on local residents – particularly given email and telephone contact details have also been taken down.

“Cllr Rigby is my councillor on Burntwood Town Council and I am very disappointed that I cannot contact her directly, and that all contact has to be done through the council offices,” he said. “Hence, this means that I have no direct contact with my own councillor.

“Also, I feel the disappointment of the hundreds of constituents who voted for her to represent them.

“If I was in her position and decided to leave the area, I wouldn’t continue to hold onto the seat and have to travel a 280 mile round trip to do so.

“It is unfair on the area that the councillor cannot represent it, it is unfair to the voters that elected her to be their voice, and it leaves Burntwood Town Council with one less active councillor throughout most of the year.”

According to Burntwood Town Council’s records, Cllr Rigby has attended four of the six meetings of the council, together with a meeting of the burial grounds committee of which she is a member.

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10 Comments

  1. Darryl Godden

    10th May, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Given the Conservatives were willing to reinstate a councillor elsewhere who tweeted racist comments, so they could win a majority, this will not concern them [Conservatives].

  2. Cllr Rob Birch

    10th May, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    I would be very interested to see what is recorded in the minutes regarding Cllr Rigby’s contribution to the meetings she has attended.

    As a Councillor I am constantly engaged with my Labour colleagues in work on my ward, dealing with problems raised by members of the public, reporting highways issues in my local community and speaking to my ward members to gauge their views. I beg to differ on the claim that anyone who has no dealings with her ward and who cannot be directly contacted by the public, can make any valid contribution to the business of the Town Councillor the local community.

    Only being contactable through the Town Council Staff is an abuse of those staff, who are not employed as her secretaries. It is an inappropriate use of tax payer resources and breaches the confidentiality of any member of the public who may need to seek help and advice from their Councillor when they are forced to go through a third party.

    Having said that, the level of contribution made by many of those on the Conservative group is at a similar level to that of Councillor Rigby so she doesn’t stand out from many in her group.

  3. Steve

    11th May, 2018 at 6:56 am

    190 miles away, isn’t too bad.

    In the past when I have contacted my local councillors. They have seemed to live on a different planet.

  4. AgitatorofPeople

    11th May, 2018 at 8:30 am

    The council can insist all they want, this is a ridiculous situation, anything to avoid triggering an election.

  5. Ann

    14th May, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Couldn’t agree more Steve. :-) I’ve sat on several community committees where Cllrs. are involved and their thought process never ceases to amaze me, and at times beggared belief. The only answer is that they are aliens.

  6. Tax payer

    14th May, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Yes cos spending thousands of pounds of the tax payers money for a bit election is a really good use of resources…. Not!

  7. AgitatorofPeople

    15th May, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Having an ineffectual or out of touch councillor in place, doing nothing of great use and using the services and resources of paid council staff to act as personal assistants as pointed out by another councillor is an abuse of tax payers money, and certainly does not provide the service expected from the constituents of her ward. Is she making monetary claims and collecting allowances as part of her role? As I alluded to earlier, the only reason to leave Cllr Rigby in place would be to prevent an election, which is in the interest of the majority Conservative council.
    Cos I would prefer to let self interest rule….. Not!

  8. Nodge

    15th May, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Can’t they just co-opt a replacement Tory to avoid triggering a bi?

  9. Ann

    15th May, 2018 at 9:52 am

    As a democracy Nodge it is the people that decide who will sit on councils not the council.

  10. wilf

    15th May, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Taxpayer – you’re not going to like this new thing called democracy it would seem. The voters voted for a local councillor who would represent them. Would they have voted for her if they knew she’d bugger off to the other end of the country? If they’re so confident she’s still effective and has the backing of voters, then let the people decide. The money for by-elections should have been budgeted by the council in case of situations where one needs to be held. Usually, this would be for ill health rather than this sort of situation, but the premise of budgeting for problems arising is basic accountancy and financial planning. I’d be more worried if they hadn’t budgeted for it.

    Nodge is correct, there doesn’t have to be a by-election (although it’ll be down to the electorate ultimately to decide if they fancy one) because they could co-opt. Only problem is that the Norma Bacon fiasco means Labour wouldn’t trust the Conservatives and vice-versa if it got to that stage.

    On the subject of the Bacon, I seem to recall cost wasn’t an issue when she was planning her North Korean-style gallery to the fallen comrades and Dear Leaders a while back?

    The whole argument about the cost of a by-election is a red herring anyway. Yes, it’s costly, but as mentioned above, it should be budgeted. Don’t forget this is a council who managed to find money for new chains not so long back and whacked up the council tax under a previous leadership. Seems money is there when they need it, just not for trifling little matters like democracy.

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