Council to vote on whether to allow sick East Cambs councillor to remain in office- one resident says its time for him to step down

Phil Read

Phil Read - Credit: Archant

A £7,700 a year East Cambs county councillor, who has attended just one meeting since March, 2014 could be given paid leave of absence for another six months because of ill health.

Officials will ask county councillors to approve Councillor Philip Read’s non-attendance from Cambridgeshire County Council when they meet in Cambridge on Tuesday.

Quentin Baker, monitoring officer, said the retired farmer – who represents Sutton, Little Downham and the villages- had not been able to attend meetings because of ill health since his attendance at a full council meeting on July 21 this year. Previously he had not attended any council or committee meeting since March, 2014.

Mr Baker said the council has previously consented to leave of absence for Cllr Read; he is still receiving treatment for his illness.

Earlier this year “it was not clear whether he would be well enough to attend meetings from July 2015 as his health can vary greatly on a day to day basis” he said.

However Cllr Read did attend the July meeting but “unfortunately Cllr Read remains unwell and has not been able to attend any council or committee meetings since his attendance at full council on July 21.

“A request is being put forward to council to approve an extension to the usual six month rule to enable Cllr Read to remain in office,” says Mr Baker. “If this request is not approved, Cllr Read will cease to be a member of the council”.

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The council will review the decision in six months if Cllr Read remains absent.

However one Little Downham resident wrote to the Ely Standard to say “that I am disappointed that our Conservative county councillor, who represents Downham villages and Sutton, has not represented us for the past 18 months due to ill health.

“I do sympathise under these circumstances but I am currently employed and wouldn’t be allowed such a privilege; his allowance is still being paid in full.”

Mr J Williams added: “This is not personal and I hope that this is opposed at the next full council on December 15.

“As a tax-payer, we pay for these councillors and it simply is not value for money; it’s totally unacceptable to say the least!

“I would be interested what other residents feel about this matter, simply if we have had no representation for the last 18 months, then perhaps we should make this position redundant. To ask for another six month extension is impertinent to say the least.

“As a local resident, I know that not everyone is interested in local politics, and I can understand why, but the question is this, are they more interested in money or interested in representing their community, the latter is what it should be...

“After some research, the known councillor is said to have turned up once in the last six months at full council just so he could continue to claim his allowance.

“It makes me wonder, if this will happen once more, and whilst there’s much talk of cuts, here is one cut we could make.”