A third of all Lewisham councillors missed more than one in every four of their scheduled council meetings, recent figures show.
Of Lewisham’s 54 councillors, 18 of them were present at less than 75 per cent of their meetings from November last year until the end of last month.
The worst attendance was jointly held by Downham ward’s David Britton, who defected from the Conservative Party to the Labour Party in 2012, and Roy Kennedy, a councillor for Crofton Park, who also serves as Lord Kennedy of Southwark in the House of Lords. Both attended only one in every three of their scheduled meetings. Neither responded to emails from Lewisham Lately. (Update 16.09.17: a resident of Mr Britton’s ward has informed me he has been away due to his wife suffering from terminal cancer).
We contacted all 18 councillors to see if there were extenuating circumstances and had responses from eight, although one refused to give an explanation.
Pat Raven of Lee Green ward said health issues had caused her attendance to drop significantly, and that she would not be seeking re-election next year.
Joe Dromey of New Cross ward, cited an illness in the family and an emergency meeting in his ward relating to the Grenfell disaster that affected his overall attendance.
Several, including Joyce Jacca of Evelyn and Hilary Moore of Grove Park, highlighted clashes between council meetings, committees and local community events. Moore stressed that work priorities and other commitments had also interfered, saying she had only had one night off from council and civic duties in the past fortnight.
Both Jonathan Slater of Whitefoot and Chris Barnham from Crofton Park also pointed out the unpredictable nature of Licensing Committee meetings. They said the contract they have with Lewisham Labour Party sets a standard of attendance at 70 per cent.
Two of the Labour Party’s candidates for the Lewisham mayoral nomination, Paul Bell (Telegraph Hill) and Brenda Dacres (New Cross) were among the group with attendance records below 75 per cent.
Dacres (74 per cent) cited meeting clashes as well as late rescheduling due to the snap general election. She said: “Over the past three years my attendance has been in the 90 percentile. I am confident my attendance percentage will improve significantly over the course of the remaining year.” Bell (68 per cent) did not respond.
Jamie Milne, who represents Evelyn ward, and whose attendance record has previously attracted the attention of Lewisham Lately, improved marginally over the past nine months.
The council is made up of 53 Labour councillors and one opposition councillor – John Coughlin from the Green Party (87 per cent). Only one councillor, Jacq Paschoud of Bellingham, went to all their scheduled meetings.
Lewisham Councillor attendance rankings below 75 per cent