Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What message is Phil Parsons sending out?

Councillors in Cornwall have, for legitimate reasons, taken different points of view on the issue of the allowances paid to members and the vote to raise those allowances next May. I voted against the proposed rise, but understand the reasons that others voted for them - even if I disagree.

In today's Cornish and Devon Post, Altarnun Tory councillor Phil Parsons is quoted extensively on the issue. Phil decries the decision to increase allowances and asks:
"What message are we sending out?"
All this is perfectly reasonable except that Phil wasn't actually there when the vote on allowances was taken. He had left the meeting to go home. This despite the meeting having been arranged and in councillors diaries since last March.

So, to answer his question, the message that Phil seems to be sending out is that if you vote for him, you'll get someone who can't be bothered to be there at the time that the key decisions are being taken.

In case any reader thinks that this is a one off example, Phil has a habit of not turning up to key decisions. Parking is one of the biggest concerns to people in the Launceston area and Phil is the only Launceston area councillor on the parking panel which recommends the charging rates for local car parks. Since the panel came into being, there have been 23 meetings, of which Phil has attended just 10. There was a period of more than a year when Phil didn't attend a single meeting of the panel.

In total, since he was elected in 2009, Phil has attended just 69% of all meetings he was due to and couldn't even be bothered to submit his apologies in almost a quarter of the ones he missed. His is the lowest attendance record of all the Launceston area councillors and even at those meetings he is recorded as attending, as with the allowances vote, he is often gone by the time some important decisions are taken.

There are other councillors who don't have great attendance records - often due to illness. And we shouldn't be judging our councillors purely by the number of times they set foot in County Hall. The work we do as ward members in our communities is just as important - if not more so. But a councillor who decides to go to the press to berate his colleagues for their decision on allowances should be prepared to justify their own record. 

(For the record, I have a 90% attendance record and have submitted apologies every time I missed a meeting).

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