4th June 2013 staplefordcommunitygroup Nottingham Evening Post Tags: 0 Comments

RESIDENTS of a Notts town are demanding a by-election after it emerged that three councillors in their area live more than 100 miles away.

Of the six town councillors for the Stapleford North ward, only half live in the area.

The others live in Somerset and London.

Husband and wife Brian and Christine Wombwell moved to Somerset four weeks ago while Russell Whiting has been living in London for the last year.

Stapleford Community Group member Richard MacRae said: “I do not think that you can represent a community if you do not live in it. As a local councillor you should be easily approachable, which is not possible if you live miles away.

“I think they should all step down and let someone else have a chance.”

But the councillors have defended themselves, saying they do not need to be in the town to help.

Councillor Christine Wombwell, a Liberal Democrat, said: “I will definitely not be standing down because I cannot see a reason for me to. I can do as good a job here as in Stapleford.

“I know exactly what is happening in the area and people can get in contact with me through the town clerk.”

Her husband Brian, who is also a Lib Dem and a Broxtowe borough councillor, said: “We moved to Somerset for family reasons.

“I have been a councillor for 14 years and lived in Stapleford for 60. It will cost the council a lot of money if we step down and I don’t feel we should.

“I still come back to represent the area at least once a fortnight.”

The pair have attended six out of nine town council meetings since May 2012.

Mr Wombwell, formerly a mayor of both Broxtowe and Stapleford, was also a county councillor for eight years.

During this time he raised £80,000 for good causes in Stapleford. He receives an allowance of £8,400 a year for being on the borough council, but nothing for being on the town council.

Councillor Russell Whiting (Labour) moved to East London last June after accepting a job and has only attended two meetings since then.

He said: “I feel that I can’t step down because a by-election would cost too much.

“I was elected as a representative of the Labour Party not as an individual and I was advised that they wanted me to carry on.

“I think I can still do a good job representing the ward and I think I am still approachable because my contact details are on the town council website.”

Former town mayor Mandy Hull, of Peatfield Road, Stapleford, is one of the three councillors that does live in the Stapleford North ward.

She said: “I do get comments from residents about it all the time. You cannot properly represent an area from as far away as London and Somerset.

“I think that they should step down for the sake of the community, but the cost of a by-election will be high.”

Councillor Stan Heptinstall of Bramcote said: “The councillors that don’t live in the area visit frequently and they still do an effective job.

“They have represented the area for many years and will continue to do so.”

To be a councillor for an area you must have either owned property, lived or worked in that area throughout the 12 months immediately before you are nominated for election.

Dan Russell
Nottingham Post

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