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Meetings’ statistics no longer published

Attendance details could be misteaaing, says council

Cllr Martin Whybrow

A row has broken out over a move by Kent County Council to stop publisning details of how many meeting county councillor attend. KCC says it took the decision after some councillors complainrd it could gave a misleading impression of the work they did as an elected member. The decision to stop publishing the attendance records of all 64 county councillors on the authority’s website was criticised by Green councillor Martin Whybrow. He complained the proposal had not been dicused properly and voters were entitled to know which
meetings their councillors, who are paid just under £13,000 a year, had gone to or been absent from.

“It is, a pretty arbitrary decision which members were not aware of or informed about. I am not convinced by the explanation and feel there is a public interest in the information. I accept it may not be a totally accurate picture of what we do but it does give an indication of how a member is performing,”

he said. Cllr Gary Cooke (Con), KCC cabinet member for democratic services, said he acted after representations from a number of members.

Cillr Gary Cooke

“I formed the view that these statistics, while accurate, could lead to an entirely misleading impression being given about how hard members work for their communities, which goes way beyond attending formal meetings.”

He added the figures were a statistical snapshot about just one of the many responsibilities elected members perform and there were often genuine reasons why councillors may not be able to attend a meeting. There was no legal requirement to publish attendance records but they could still be accessed by the public through Freedom of Information requests, he said. KCC planned to examine innovative and reactive ways to show the public more details of the work they did for their communities, he added.

Herne Bay Gazette, December 18th 2014

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