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No-show Tory councillor given the boot despite £3k allowance payout

By Carl Jackson | Cannock Chase | News | Published:

A district councillor has been kicked off the authority after failing to attend a single meeting in six months – although she will not have to pay back nearly £3,000 worth of taxpayers’ money she accrued in allowances.

Joanne Christian

Joanne Christian has served the Hednesford South ward on Cannock Chase District Council since she was elected in May 2015.

But the last time the Conservative member attended a meeting was in mid-January and she has missed six public meetings since then, including five full councils.

George Adamson, leader of the Labour-controlled council, confirmed Ms Christian had now been removed from her seat.

He said: "She has not attended any meetings in six months so she has been kicked off, as is the council's policy.

"But of course she has had allowances for that period.

"Obviously in exceptional circumstances, such as ill health, we can can grant an extension but we have not received any reports from her or the Conservatives about anything like that so I assume she just hasn't got around to attending."

Councillor Adamson issued a wider shot at fellow Conservatives who have served the council.

He added: "It is symptomatic of the attendance of opposition councillors, their attendance is generally quite poor.

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"We only have a majority of one but in reality it feels like much more than that due to none attendances.

"Hednesford South has always been a marginal and winnable seat.

"It is not like she stood in a Labour stronghold and didn't expect to get in."

Ms Christian served on the economic development and town centre scrutiny committee as well as the standards committee although did not receive any additional allowances for those roles.

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She was entitled to a basic allowance of £5,339 and a further £400 'communications allowance' a year.

The council confirmed she would have received around half of that - £2,900 - during the last six months.

Explaining why she would not have to pay anything back a spokesman said: "Councillor Christian continued to be paid these allowances during the six months period as these allowances are paid to councillors to support them in carrying out the various aspects of their roles.

"Government guidance issued in 2003 states that the basic allowance 'is intended to recognise the time commitment of all councillors, including such inevitable calls on their time as meetings with officers and constituents and attendance at political group meetings. It is also intended to cover incidental costs such as the use of their homes.'

"The ‘communications allowance’ is paid to cover the cost of consumables, broadband, telephone line rental and mobile phone usage."

The Express & Star tried to contact Ms Christian but she was unavailable for comment.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
Reporter - @cjackson_star

Senior reporter for Staffordshire and Walsall.

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