Earlier this week, we reported on serial skiver Jamie Milne, a Labour councillor for Evelyn whose increasingly rare appearances are but the latest in the ward’s strange pattern of absenteeism and scandal.
According to the latest figures, he attended council meetings marginally more than one in every two occasions for most of last year. But we didn’t know the half of it. Since that post, Lewisham Lately has delved a little deeper into his record and more has come to light.
On at least two occasions, according to residents and official records, Mr Milne attended an Evelyn Assembly meeting for the first few minutes – long enough to be on the list of attendees – then excused himself. That dubious attendance record looks even shakier now.
The first occasion was in July last year (Mr Milne is indeed marked as attending). In January this year, it happened again – as detailed on public record – and local residents called him out on it as the extract below shows:
Another issue exercising Evelyn residents in recent years has been the “austerity” rebuild of the local Sir Francis Drake Primary School. Mr Milne, who runs Heidi Alexander’s constituency office, failed to be at any of the public consultations despite their clear significance to local parents (and neither did his co-councillor David Michael, who faced their wrath in a heated Special Assembly Meeting).
However, Milne, who received £13,499.27 for his services as a councillor in 2014/15, has had enough spare time to set up a campaign group, Labour Friends of Ukraine. “British politics is mired in an inward looking and parochial phase”, he wrote by way of introduction in 2015. Perhaps representing Evelyn felt a little too parochial for him.
By March last year, the strains were clearly showing between Evelyn residents and their elected representatives, even among members of their own party. In an internal Labour Party email, seen by Lewisham Lately, the three councillors were clearly informed of their constituents’ unhappiness. This was sent by the secretary of the local branch of the party.
Dear Evelyn Councillors. At last night’s ward meeting, which none of you attended, it was unanimously agreed I should write a letter to you setting out the concerns of the members present about your current performance as councillors representing Evelyn Ward as a whole, and as Evelyn BLP’s [Branch Labour Party] elected representatives… The concerns expressed by the members … suggest that you need… to give more time and attention to representing the views of local residents.
And so it continued, in a very reasonable tone. Jamie Milne’s response? Seemingly to turn up even less than before.
By October, things had deteriorated further. One resident, describing themselves as “a former Labour voter disgusted by the local councillors”, reports: “Lewisham Council had to employ a mediation consultant to improve the relations between the Evelyn Assembly Coordinating Group and councillors.”
It didn’t work. Now Jamie Milne has ditched the fact he represents Evelyn from his Twitter bio. As reported earlier in the week, he doesn’t plan to stand for reelection in May 2018 – 12 months too far away for his critics, one of whom said: “That’s another year wasted after terrible representation for the last three.”
Earlier this week, Lewisham Lately emailed Mr Milne for a comment on his record as an Evelyn ward councillor and whether he planned to resign – but no response has showed up in our inbox yet.
While we wait, we can’t help wondering what Mr Milne’s boss makes of his record, particularly as he cited “work and family commitments” for his diminishing attendance. The MP for Lewisham East cut her teeth as a local councillor, coincidentally for Evelyn ward. She had a reputation as a highly competent local representative, and has gone on to be a diligent and hard-hitting operator at Westminster. Will she have a word in her employee’s ear?
Or will Mr Milne remain free to take his annual councillor allowance – a minimum of £9,812 – for another year?