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WALES: Councillors are AWOL.


COUNCILLORS in Denbighshire have been slammed for not attending meetings despite the council's huge problems.

Letters have gone out to all serving members urging them to attend or at least send an apology.

It comes amid criticism of the cash strapped county's education system and a damning audit report into the running of its corporate governance portfolio.

Ruthin resident Helen Edwards said she was "astonished" by councillors' apparent lack of commitment - especially after they recently awarded themselves a 2.5% pay rise.

In December, the elected representatives controversially voted in favour of hiking their own allowances from pounds 12,718 to pounds 13,030.

Disgusted Ms Edwards said: "It would seem that some of the councillors neither turn up nor send an apology.

"This is a council that has been very close to being taken into special measures and which has failing schools in some areas.

"Yet some councillors do not seem to care as long as they continue to receive their handsome remuneration."

Letters were sent out by the county clerk two weeks ago after fears scrutiny committee meetings were not equally attended and represented by all parties.

But Denbigh councillor Colin Hughes said some issues stem from members' other work commitments and their inability to get to every meeting.

"Councillors should not be excluded from standing because they may have other jobs but it is fair to say that problems arise when it comes to attending every single meeting," he said.

"We need to be as widely representative as possible and encourage working people to stand - in Denbighshire, our gender balance is not as good as other councils but we must strive to have representation from as many people from different sectors of the community as possible - that is why there has been some talk of holding meetings during the evenings."

A Denbighshire council spokeswoman said: "A letter was sent to all councillors a few weeks ago as there were concerns that some scrutiny committees could have difficulties in being quorate.

"It highlighted the need to attend or, if unable to do so, to present their apologies in good time."

She added: "The council recognises that at times, due to illness or other meetings, it may not always be possible to attend all meetings."


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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2009
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