Councillors who miss meetings are named and shamed

Share this article

A COUNCILLOR today admitted he had been shamed after the Evening News found he had missed a third of his City Chambers meetings.

Councillor Charles Dundas, who juggles his civic duties with working as a full-time campaigns officer for the Liberal Democrats, is expected to attend an average of two meetings a week – but has missed 52 in the past two years.

He was found to have the worst attendance record at the City Chambers after an Evening News investigation.

Click here to see your councillor's attendance

A series of other councillors, including Conservative Cameron Rose and Labour's Eric Milligan, also missed around one in five of their scheduled meetings, though many often send substitutes.

By contrast, the SNP's Stefan Tymkewycz attended every single one of his 70 council meetings, while the city's Lib Dem finance leader, Phil Wheeler, made 98.7 per cent of his commitments.

Overall, the city's 58 councillors have missed 10 per cent of the 5470 official council meetings since the elections in May 2007.

Council officials do not keep attendance records so the Evening News trawled through the minutes of committee meetings to compile the first full picture.

Among the worst attended meetings were the much-trumpeted neighbourhood partnership meetings. The councillor with the worst attendance record for those was former Lord Provost Councillor Milligan, who has missed six out of the eight South West Neighbourhood Committee meetings, which have taken place since May 2007.

Cllr Dundas, who represents the city centre, and had a particularly bad record for attending planning meetings, said: "Even going to half of the development sub-committee meetings is a bigger commitment than, say, someone on the education committee which meets every two months, but that has shamed me.

"It has never been a case of me not wanting to go, every meeting I have missed was because of my full-time work commitments.

"Juggling the two is difficult and I do go to as many meetings as I can, if there are other councillors out there who think they could take on this level of commitment I would gladly swap."

Around half of the city's councillors also hold down full-time jobs. The figures do not include the unofficial engagements undertaken by councillors, such as Parent Teacher Association meetings, or attendance at outside bodies such as the police and fire boards.

Councillors have basic salaries of 15,838, plus expenses, which are not dependent on the number of meetings they attend. Including salaries and expenses, the city's councillors cost about 1.2 million every year. Councillors must turn up at least once every six months to keep their job.

Stefan Tymkewycz, who supplements his council pay by managing a property portfolio, said: "I am very pleased to hear about my record, obviously I am committed to the task of being a local councillor which involves not only working hard but attending as many meetings as is possible."

The attendance records also revealed that city leader Jenny Dawe, who is not obliged to attend any meetings other than her own policy and strategy committee, sits in on the various committees.

Ricky Henderson, the city's Labour deputy leader and a full-time official of the Communication Workers Union, missed 20 per cent of his meetings, but this was partly due to the fact he was in a car accident in December 2007.

Mark Wallace, campaigns director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "This failure to attend important meetings is simply not good enough. Of course a lot of councillors have outside interests and other jobs, but taxpayers provide them with an ample allowance for the lost income. If they take on this responsibility and take this money, then they ought to try harder to represent their consituents."