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Archive - Wednesday, 20 October 2010
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Thrown off the council
ONE of Witney’s most prominent councillors and a former mayor has lost her seat on Witney Town Council after failing to attend a single meeting in six months.
Councillor Louise Chapman —also a member of the county council cabinet — lost her Witney East seat under rules which say members must attend at least every six months. Mrs Chapman said the council should have reminded her of the meetings — though it said this was not its role.
She said: “It certainly wasn’t a case of sitting at home on the sofa, I would have been out at official meetings.”
She said: “People have come up to that point before, and they have been warned, but nobody informed me whatsoever. If I had been told, I would have gone along.”
She added: “But I should have realised myself and I didn’t, and I hold my hands up to that.”
She said she had ‘no hard feelings’ towards the council, and would continue to represent Witney East ward regardless. I will continue to help people, whatever the issue, because that’s what I do.”
Mrs Chapman is also a Witney West member on West Oxfordshire District Council. She is also a county councillor for Hanborough and is cabinet member for children, young people and families at Oxfordshire County Council.
Mrs Chapman, a town councillor for more than a decade, missed three consecutive full council meetings on May 12, June 23, and August 4.
She said she had been planning to stand down at a May 2011 election of all members anyway.
Yet she said a by-election ahead of this would be a ‘total waste of money’. This needs to be called for by at least ten residents.
Witney Town Council clerk, Sharon Groth, said it was ‘very unfortunate’ that Mrs Chapman had lost her position.
But she added: “A councillor has a duty to attend meetings, and in extenuating circumstances, such as serious illness, the council can agree a period of absence.
“On this occasion, no request was made.”
And she said: “It isn’t the role of the clerk to remind members to attend meetings, although in the past I have written to new councillors to remind them of their duty to attend if they were approaching the six-month deadline.”
Witney town mayor, James Mills, said: “Louise has worked extremely hard for the people of Witney for more than ten years, including serving as Witney’s youngest mayor.
“She has championed local people’s interests, working for more affordable homes and more leisure facilities for young people.
“It is regrettable that her time as town councillor has ended in this way, but I know that Louise will continue to work hard for the people she represents on the district and county councils.”