Call for no-show councillor to quit HDC

A NEW district councillor, who has not attended a meeting of the full authority since February, should resign – or Fenstanton residents should tell him to go, Liberal Democrats say. Councillor Paul Dakers, who lives in St Ives, was elected in May last yea

A NEW district councillor, who has not attended a meeting of the full authority since February, should resign - or Fenstanton residents should tell him to go, Liberal Democrats say.

Councillor Paul Dakers, who lives in St Ives, was elected in May last year to represent Fenstanton on Huntingdonshire District Council. He had a full attendance record at full council meetings until February 20 this year, but has been seen at only one working group meeting since then, qualifying him to continue to receive his councillor's allowance of more than £4,000 a year.

But he has no plans to stand down.

He has sent apologies for absence from three council meetings and eight meetings of one of HDC's scrutiny panels of which he is a member, meaning he has attended only eight per cent of the meetings at which he was expected in the last six months, according to the council's website.


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Cllr Dakers, a lorry driver, has been at only one official meeting since February - of a scrutiny panel working group on lorry parking facilities in the district in late April.

But that was sufficient to start the clock ticking for a further six months.

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"Someone who doesn't attend a meeting for six months is automatically off the council," said Roy Reeves, HDC's head of administration.

The Liberal Democrats, who lost the seat five years ago, now want the chance to win it back.

The party's campaigns officer Martin Land called on Cllr Dakers to resign and wants Fenstanton residents to demand a parish referendum on his future as their representatives.

"It is not the first time this has happened, and it must stop. It is an abuse of the democratic system at a time when there are many important issues facing both Huntingdonshire and Fenstanton."

Mr Land says it would take just five electors to write to the parish clerk, Steve Dartford, to ask for a parish meeting to discuss a motion calling for his resignation.

If at least 10 people at a parish meeting or one-third of those present voted in favour and a submission were made to the district council, HDC would have to arrange a parish poll within 25 days.

Parish clerk Steve Dartford confirmed that Cllr Dakers had not attended a meeting of Fenstanton Parish Council - which is normal for district and county councillors for the parish, but not compulsory - since April.

Cllr Dakers explained that his job had changed since his election last year. "It has all been a bit frantic. I start work at four in the morning and finish at six at night, and I can't then go to meetings," he told The Hunts Post. "I used to start at three in the morning doing a different job, but I was finished by lunchtime.

"Now I never know when I'm going to start or finish. I have had misgivings from time to time, but I still have to pay the rent, and the £4,000 from HDC doesn't do that.

"I've been fighting valiantly for the truck-driving business, and I believe I have also been representing Fenstanton," he added. "I got Hampton Close finished for them, and I've been to various parish council meetings.

"I don't think it's a case of my not doing the job. What the Lib Dems don't see, they don't know what I'm doing. Meetings are not what it's all about - I keep in regular contact reading the council papers and with the Conservative group."

nEleven of HDC's 52 councillors have 100 per cent attendance records over the past six months. They are the leader Ian Bates and councillors Kendal Cooper, Steve Criswell, Julie Dew, Philip Godfrey, Peter Godley, Sam Kemp, Peter Mitchell, Mike Newman, David Priestman, Mike Shellens, Dick Tuplin and Richard West.

Apart from Cllr Dakers, only seven members have attended on fewer than 70 per cent of the occasions they were expected at council or committee meetings. They are Cllr Deborah Reynolds, who has been in hospital (45 per cent) and Cllrs Terry Clough (50), Ross Muir (56), Bob Farrer (57), Paul Ursell (63), Ken Churchill (64) and Phillip Swales (69).

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