Conservative proposals for councillors to be sacked from office if they fall below an agreed standard through a ‘Councillor Recall’ system are due to debated at Council in July. Liberal Democrats do not think the current proposals go far enough and at the very least would like to see residents involved in setting the standards.
Speaking about the proposals, Lib Dem Opposition Leader, Councillor Liz Green said,
“When asked about recalling councillors by the Surrey Comet last year, Councillor Kevin Davis said he was 'sceptical and thought in reality it would not work'. It was me who supported being able to recall a councillor, particularly if a councillor was convicted of a crime. I’m pleased the Tory Leader has had a Damascene conversion on this issue but it’s hypocritical to now hike the proposals around the rest of the country in the name of transparency as if they were his own. We have to remember a political party can expel a councillor if they really want to take action. We did.”
To trigger a by election, the Conservative proposals would need a third of electors, from the Councillor’s ward, to sign a petition. Liberal Democrats believe getting this number of residents would be very difficult.
Councillor Liz Green continued,
“If we are going to support this we need to turn Kevin’s current publicity stunt into something that works so let’s at least make it easier for residents to recall their councillor. Our amendment at Council will look to involve residents so they can say what they think the standards should be and we will look at what is a more reasonable number of signatures to trigger a by-election. It’s also a good opportunity to include something that could cover potential conflicts of interest and councillors using their council positions to promote their business interests.”
Conservatives have been keen to point out the difficulties a young ex-Lib Dem councillor had in attending meetings when his career took off but the Conservative Group have had their fair share of councillors too who have fallen well below standards. The most notorious Conservative scandals include that of an ex-Conservative councillor who moved to the USA whilst representing residents of Coombe Vale and still claimed his councillor allowance. Also an ex-Cabinet Member pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft totalling nearly £18,000 from his employer.