Friday, 17 October 2008

"Ludicrous" screams the Echo

Front page lead story, huge "Ludicrous" headline: today's Echo lays into Steve Jones for his decision to stand again in the by-election he caused.

"Totally ludicrous" were my words to Paul Cook last night when he phoned me about it, and totally ludicrous it is. Steve must have a hell of a thick skin. He probably doesn't realise what some of the Council's officers and councillors are saying privately about his decision to seek re-election.

Well, if I was Steve, with a headline like that about me, I'd think twice about standing. He has til next Wednesday to withdraw his nomination. He can continue to represent his constituents as Chair of the North Road Partnership and Chair of the Friends of North Park. But he obviously isn't interested in attending Council meetings, so why is he wanting to be elected as a councillor again?

Update: My friend Alan Macnab has posted this elsewhere, but I thought it was so good that I'd reprint it here:

The fact is Mr. Jones failed to attend a single Council meeting for six months and as a result he was disqualified from being a Councillor. He must have known the rules about this. I am sure that if he had broached the subject at his job interview with his prospective new employer some arrangement could have been found between them and Darlington Council to allow Mr. Jones to attend Council meetings.
All employers are legally required to give employees reasonable time off for public duties. Employees in this position will normally make the time up by coming into work earlier or in other ways. Darlington Council bent over backwards to contact Mr. Jones in the intervening period and he did not contact the Council. Therefore he was rightly disqualified as a Councillor.
The fact that Mr. Jones is standing for Council so soon after being disqualified and because his actions caused the by-election in the first place is extraordinary, it does make a mockery of the democratic process and is a flagrant waste of public money.
Not only that, it deprives children of a day’s education, employment for teachers and support staff in schools used for the election, working parents their wages which they can ill afford to lose in this present economic climate and for employers the loss of money and production as a result of employees being absent.
Perhaps Mr. Jones should consider these facts and then decide what he wants to do.

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