Non-local councillors

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Friday 21 February 2014 5.27pm
I noticed in this Guardian article that Southwark Councillor Rowena Davis lives in Southampton.

Is it common for local councillors to not only not live in the borough they sit in, but not even in the same city?
Friday 21 February 2014 11.26pm
Its not unusual for Southwark councillors to cut their political teeth here, then stand in 'safe' seats outside London.
The last term 2006 - 2010 boasts two examples:

Alison McGovern MP

Susan Ellen-Jones MP
Saturday 22 February 2014 7.53am
Whilst it might not be unusual, I think it's wrong. Local politics should stop being the foray of wannabe MPs, living wherever they may be, the figures indeed speak for themselves as Rowena has missed almost 33 per cent of council meetings. Has her allowance been cut by a third? I doubt it. Presumably though, If she's unsuccessful in Southampton, she'll continue to be a councillor in Southwark.

Why is/was she not a councillor in her hometown of Southampton? She wouldn't get my vote that's for sure, whether here or in Southampton.
Saturday 22 February 2014 10.42am
Gone are the days of councillors or politicians championing the needs of his/her hometown!
Any easy seat is what they want!
Saturday 22 February 2014 11.00am
This has really surprised me. I could understand it if a Cllr didn't quite live in the borough, for example I live on the edge of Southwark and Lambeth, but to live this far away, in an area that can't even be compared to Southwark, just stuns me. How on Earth does she ever get to meet and represent her Ward; I see my Ward Cllrs on a regular basis and they have often attended our TRA meetings at short notice. Someone is being shortchanged here.
Monday 24 February 2014 12.48am
I think it's quite legitimate for people to spend three years as a local councillor - living in the area and working for the people in our area - and then to decide that their ambitions go beyond the local and to the national. What they should then do is make this clear and then be honest.

Some councillors with ambition can stay living and working in Southwark - representing their constituents and turning up at surgeries and TRA meetings. They can campaign elsewhere at weekends but at least they are still doing the job our residents gave them.

The difficulty comes when the place people want to stand is a long way from Southwark - should they stay or should they go?

How they handle this is probably the real test. In recent times some councillors have decided to stand as MPs elsewhere and have declared it, changed address and then stood down in Southwark and therefore stopped taking the financial allowance because they were not living here and not holding surgeries and not genuinely being local representatives - this to me is honest and understandable.

Former labour councillor Susan Elan-Jones did this in an open and transparent way and is now MP for Clwyd South - she openly said she was going back to Wales and stood down and did not claim 1000 a month from the people of Southwark while living elsewhere. Some other former Labour councillors were not as honest and had others doing their surgeries while pretending to still be around while in reality spending all their time in the north west.

Being a Southwark councillor is not only about turning up to the 6-weekly council assembly meetings. For most of us it is town hall or TRA meetings Monday-Thursday days and evenings and door knocking at the weekends with Friday evenings off. For me with 14 TRAs in my ward there is rarely a weekday evening off and often a choice of things to go to which means that Poddy and I (and William our excellent third candidate) have to split things between us. Yes, we love it. We fight hard to be able to represent our residents and care about them and don't see it as a stepping stone.

In the last eight years I have lived in Chaucer, Cathedrals, East Walworth, South Camberwell and South Bermondsey. That has helped me understand the different charater of the areas we represent in a way that just being on the Council's Executive-Cabinet did not. As a Chaucer Councillor it has helped for me to live in the ward and beside it too.

For myself I only want to be a local councillor and have no Westminster ambitions - but I understand why friends and colleagues have that wish.

Every time there has been a by-election in Southwark I have hoped that the person elected would be a local person, grounded in the reality of life here and not some Westminster wannabe with more desire to be on TV than on the doorstep - someone who represents and who comes from the area they claim to want to represent. Sadly I too have been disappointed more often than not, and most of the recently elected Labour ones are standing down as this never was what they wanted to be.

Conclusion - we should accept that some councillors will want to move on the be MPs. How they handle it is the real test. Once they declare in a constituency where they plan to really fight it (as opposed to being just listed as a "paper candidate") then they should step down from the Council and stop taking 1000 a month allowances.

Being a Southwark Councillor is a mixed experience. It takes loads of time, loads of effort and loads of commitment to do it right. It is rewarding emotionally and frustrating a lot of the time. I love doing it. I hope that in May I can carry on again.

Tim

Cllr Tim McNally
LibDem Councillor for Chaucer Ward
07903 967 809 / 020 7525 7157
tim.mcnally@southwark.gov.uk
Saturday 1 March 2014 3.35pm
Unfortunately it is. There is a common practice amongst all parties to parachute graduate candidates usually from elite Oxbridge colleges into safe and winnable parliamentary seats.This also happens in council elections.Most people with British citizenship are eligible to stand for parliament in any seat in the UK. This of itself whilst necessary lends itself to the bad parachuting practice.In council elections the rule is similar you may stand for election if you are registered to vote in the Borough you want to stand in; additionally you may stand if you haved worked in the area during the last 12 months but live and are registered to vote outside. A solution join the party of your choice en masse and vote down the bad practice. You will be branded as an agitator but so what if you believe you are right agitatate to see what you believe in happen.
Sunday 2 March 2014 3.23pm
simple solution...you have to be registered to vote in the constituency you wish to stand it.
Sunday 2 March 2014 4.48pm
boroughpaul I entirely agree with you here.

This would explain why the council are letting developers get away with such ridiculous ideas as making the area look like "Manhattan". In North Southwark? I ask you to think of anything more stupid, or inappropriate. Why should they care? They will be moving onwards and upwards as soon as the opportunity presents itself, and clearly do not represent the views of the people they are elected to serve. The contacts they make here in North Southwark will serve them well in their political ambitions.
Can anyone stand for election?
How do we as local people challenge this?
Sunday 2 March 2014 11.53pm
JazzyQ wrote:
How do we as local people challenge this?
Join the party that best matches your values, and get involved!
It's not perfect, but....
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