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Labour councillor accuses Conservative rival of using Burntwood Town Council officers as secretaries

A Labour councillor has accused a Conservative rival of using Burntwood Town Council officers as secretaries.

Cllr Brenda Rigby

Cllr Brenda Rigby

Cllr Brenda Rigby has faced calls to resign after moving 190 miles away from the town and directing all calls and emails via the council’s own contact details.

But Labour Cllr Rob Birch said it was inappropriate for officers to be left dealing with Cllr Rigby’s correspondence.

“Only being contactable through the town council staff is an abuse of those staff, who are not employed as her secretaries,” Cllr Birch said.

“It is an inappropriate use of taxpayer 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.”

Burntwood Town Council said Cllr Rigby’s move to Alston in Cumbria – a three-and-a-half hour drive away – did not hamper her ability to be an effective councillor.

A council statement said: “Cllr Brenda Rigby was elected as a Member for the Summerfield and All Saints Ward at the parish council elections in May 2015. 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 Rob Birch

Cllr Rob Birch

But Cllr Birch said such a claim did not hold water – and accused the Conservatives of not doing enough to tackle the issue.

“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,” he said.

“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 council the local community.

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

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  1. Ann

    11th May, 2018 at 11:01 am

    She’s not the only one. I know of a Cllr. for a Lichfield Ward that resides outside Lichfield District and has done so for several years (not declared). That said this Cllr. doesn’t live as far away as Cllr. Rigby and regularly attends meetings and meets commitments. But I agree that Cllrs. should live in the Council area (not necessarily the Ward) they represent, because, and correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t their allowance paid for from our council tax?

  2. One Member of the Public

    11th May, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Well, Norma Bacon has a district seat for Curborough but lives in Burntwood. She also sits on Burntwood Town council for Chasetown, and has commented in meetings that “it’s not like Lichfield”. She wasn’t elected by the Chasetown people either. Quite a mild drama.

  3. Nellygb

    11th May, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Yes Ann you are correct and it would be nice if the local businesses had a chance of getting some back instead of it going up to the lake district. For heavens sake she doesn’t even pay in to the pot. You really couldn’t make it up could you and to make it worse her colleagues are of the opinion that she can still do her job as it should be done. Makes you wonder what their input is for their 3k. As one of her (no doubt) political hero’s said once ‘For heaven’s sake (wo)man, go!’

  4. Ross

    11th May, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    For clarity, it’s worth pointing out that members’ allowances are relevant to Lichfield District Council and not Burntwood Town Council. Cllr Rigby sits on BTC and not LDC