Independent councillor spurs inquiry into what Fenland councillors do on outside bodies and how much it costs

17:36 08 November 2012

Cllr Virginia Bucknor

Cllr Virginia Bucknor

Archant

EXPENSES claimed by Fenland councillors on outside bodies will be scrutinised as part of a review ordered by council leader Alan Melton.

It follows a campaign led by independent councillor Virginia Bucknor of Wisbech who argued it could be costing thousands for members to sit on outside bodies since no one knew how much.

“We also have no idea what these members are doing since they are not reporting back to this council,” she told a full council meeting.

The council was represented on 80 outside bodies and as far she was aware no official reports were received.

She did not believe there was any kind of conspiracy but if no reports were received it could be seen “as somewhat secretive, losing the spirit of transparency and not best practice.”

She also wondered if “we have supermen on this council? One councillor lists on his register of interests 70 different organisations! I want a proper review of representation on outside bodies- we need to get our house in order.”

Cllr Melton said he had asked for all mileage claim forms to be examined to calculate expenses paid out to councillors.

He agreed there were too many representatives which is neither sustainable nor justifiable.

He took on board what Cllr Mrs Bucknor had said regarding reporting and stated that there had always been representatives on national and regional bodies but that they do not report back enough to the council and under the review it will be proposed that this becomes mandatory.

Councillor Martin Curtis is Fenland’s representative on the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel and once the panel is up and running then he promised he would report back regularly.

Cllr Mrs Bucknor told the committee one councillor had been a member of an outside body for 10 years but, to her knowledge, had never attended a meeting.

Cllr Melton admitted he was the councillor in question, having been a member of the Nightlayers Drainage Board for 10 years and never having attended a meeting.

“But I haven’t claimed any mileage either,” he said.

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