Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cllr Fenwick Still Around

If anyone thought Worcester Park Councillor Stephen Fenwick had disappeared completely following his conviction for racial assault it is not the case. Cllr Fenwick is still an independent councillor representing Worcester Park and as such he turned up at the Mosque appeal hearing on Wednesday and asked to speak. Unfortunately he had to leave to attend an important meeting that afternoon and was no longer available to speak when his turn came up.

He failed to attend the final local area committee for Cheam North and Worcester Park last Thursday and also the final full council meeting of this administration the previous Monday. However as one of the items on the agenda was to remove him from the many committees he sat on, I'm not surprised he didn't really want to be there.

Both Emily Brothers, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Sutton & Cheam and Tony Shields, Conservative councillor representing Sutton South tabled questions asking how long the Lib Dems had known he had been charged with racist assault and why they had only waited until the news hit the local paper about his conviction before taking any action. Although after Ms Brothers' question, Cllr Shields withdrew his question, being as it was, rather similar in nature.

There were also questions raised about why Cllr Fenwick could not be removed as a councillor after such a serious conviction with Emily Brothers branding the council's code of conduct and equal opportunities policies as "paper tigers".

Councillors from both sides agreed that there needs to be, as Cllr Tim Crowley put it, a better "mentoring system to ensure that when things get tough for councillors they don't end up in dark places."

I spoke briefly with Cllr Fenwick on Wednesday during a break at the appeal hearing and offered him the opportunity to put his side of the story via the blog. However he declined to do so saying it was too long ago now. He did appear to be reasonably well and didn't indicate whether or not he is planning to stand again in Worcester Park as an independent councillor in May.


9 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

I wholeheartedly agree.. as a standing Councillor at the time of my divorce. It is very easy to think that everyone is watching and waiting you put a foot a wrong during them very dark days. It is easy to see how things can spiral. The council has a duty of care to its residents but also to those to elected to run it, steps should be taken like Cllr Tim Crowley says. Fortunately for me my community took me in and helped me through those difficult times. I think Cllr Fenwick should take some time to get some help, rediscover himself, and maybe make a return to politics when life is a little more settled for him.

guest D said...

I agree with Stewart, the council does offer have a duty of care to its councillors, who have at the very least a very challenging and taxing unpaid job.

And that duty of care extends to not revealing information about pending legal cases until they have been decided, just as the Conservative paty rightly did not reveal Nigel Evans charges of homosexual rape until it was called to trial and had appeared in the press. I personally think that the CPS also should not go on fishing trips by releasing information about potential charges so they can bundle up a number of possible minor offenses

I wish Cllr Fenwick well and hope he does as Stewart has suggested and take time out to rediscover himself.

Gino said...

I agree too.
It is worth taking into account that the ultimate responsibility is that of the councillor's colleagues and party ,after all they are supposed to ensure candidates are fit , able and worthy of the honour to represent the community.
It is self serving of the said party to do otherwise and speaks volumes ,and brings into question their integrity.
My conclution is this ,after 28years in administration from the current
elected council ,as a resident we need people who are wholeheartedly working for all of ,us.
Not just their bunch!

Alex said...

"Unpaid"? See Sutton Council's Members Allowances Scheme, Part 2, Appendix A:

Basic Allowance (Each Councillor): £10,191

Special Responsibility Allowance: 10 Levels, from an extra £2,805 to £39,672, depending on how taxing it is to 'sit' at a particular committee.
Plus: Motor mileage allowance (up to 46.9p per mile) , full reimbursement of public transport costs, day subsistence allowance (up to £19.41 per day), overnight subsistence allowance (actual cost fully reimbursed) and dependent carers allowance (£46.12 pw).

From what I've seen of our councillors' Outer London Fund tinkering with and failing in Worcester Park High Street, their time and effort must have been saved for calculating and claiming the above allowances.

guest D said...

Alex,

Thanks for that, I was way out of date, thinking of the time my Father was a councillor in the 60's when it WAS totally unpaid. I see from the LGA who set these allowances that many of them are untaxed as well.

So we can see why there is such a desire to become a councillor, almost as much a gravy train as being an MEP.

Alex said...

Guest D, I'm afraid being a Sutton Councillor in recent years has been about getting on committees and getting lucrative rewards for doing so. Hopefully the forthcoming elections will change all that.

Having attended recent Sutton Council meetings, it's clear that some current councillors sitting on committees have little, if any idea about the subject matter they are discussing.

For example, residents who attended the first 'Green Lane Mosque meeting' may well recall the deputy Chair being so utterly unprepared for the meeting and so ill-equipped to make a decision that she asked of the audience, "What's Worcester Park like?" This prompted the deserved response from the audience of "Don't you think you should have found out, before tonight?"

On the plus side, it appears the Councillors responsible for much of the recent expensive and controversial failure in public works, in Worcester Park have jumped before they were pushed.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

Not all Councils are as generous. When I elected to Runnymede. My allowance was paid monthly and was the grand sum of £130 after tax. Becoming a councillor for me was nothing about money and all about bettering the community around me.

Alex said...

Stewart, perhaps the cost of the average Tory Councillor in Runnymede, against the cost of the average Lib Dem Councillor in Sutton might make an interesting comparison?

guest D said...

Alex it would make an interesting but invalid comparison as councillors in London are paid according to a scheme set out by the 'London Councils independent Remumeration Panel' Wandsworth's web site (Tory controlled) states that the basic allowance paid to all is £10,597 (2013-2014) and is the same for all councillors in London. Though like Sutton there are 'special responsibility' payments.

However, it would be interesting to compare Sutton with its neighbouring boroughs as they will be of similar size and complexity to administer. But not with an inner London one such as Wandsworth or Lambeth as they have different challenges.

Runnymeade is clearly is on a different remuneration scheme.

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