Colchester councillor dismissed from Town Hall after not showing up for six months
- Credit: Su Anderson
The councillor representing Langham and Dedham has been removed from Colchester Borough Council after he failed to attend a single meeting in six months.
Work commitments have meant Conservative councillor Mark Cable has not been to any relevant meetings since December last year, meaning legally he ceases to a be a member of the authority.
Mr Cable was formally retired from the council on June 15, but party group leaders were only informed of the decision this week.
Beverly Davies, deputy group leader, said: “Mark has continued to be a very active ward councillor which has included planning call-ins and representation.
“He has always been a very hard-working ward councillor, representing his residents robustly and appropriately.
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“When Mark was first elected, he worked from home but then took up a post in London in December 2014, which was very demanding of his time. This meant that he has been unable to return to Colchester in time to attend meetings, or has been asked to work away at times.
“Mark is held in very high regard by his residents and fellow councillors and we are all disappointed that Mark’s work commitments have led to this situation.”
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The move means if the vacant seat is contested the ward could see a by-election – just a few months before the Town Hall has all-out elections next May.
However the dismissal has prompted anger from the other side of the council chamber, particularly as tax payers will foot the bill if a by-election is held.
Council leader Paul Smith, Liberal Democrat, said: “Mark Cable had the perfect opportunity to step down in May when council elections were taking place alongside the general election.
“His behaviour is appalling enough, but his Conservative colleagues have compounded the situation by turning a blind eye to his non-attendance to important council meetings.
Lyn Barton, Lib Dem group leader, added: “We are incredibly disappointed the situation has left the residents of Dedham and Langham without any representation. It appears both Mr Cable and all of the Conservative borough councillors are of the opinion the ward doesn’t matter.
“It beggars belief.”
Tim Young, Labour group leader, said: “The Tories have been totally incompetent in allowing this to happen.
“Why hasn’t he been attending and why didn’t his group leader or whip warn him that his continuing absence would result in him losing his seat on the council?
“I can guarantee this would not happen in the Labour Group.
“The Tories should be ashamed and embarrassed by this state of affairs. It is extraordinary and just proves why they should never be trusted to run Colchester Borough Council.”
Mr Cable was elected to the post in 2012, polling 596 votes ahead of the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates who each received 81 votes.
The last meeting he attended was full council on December 11 last year.
During the six month period Mr Cable had been a member of the Crime and Disorder Committee, Policy Review and Development Panel and the Scrutiny Panel.
He was entitled to a basic allowance of £6,572.98 but it is not known if Mr Cable had claimed this for the latest municipal year.
A council spokesman said the authority is currently reviewing the situation of his allowance payments.