Lord Gnome takes up The Clarion’s ‘absentee councillor’ case

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The Clarion's campaign has even attracted the attention of the satirical magazine Private Eye. Will Northumberland Council now respond?

THE SCANDAL of absentee North Northumberland County Councillor Roderick Lawrie has been taken up by the influential satirical news magazine Private Eye.

Yes,  even LORD GNOME follows The Clarion and Voice of the North!

The hugely-read national investigative magazine’s ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column picked up our story of the North Northumberland County councillor who, since January 2019, has attended only ONE of FOUR full county council meetings, only ONE of EIGHT local area council meeting and – as far as our research has been able to establish – not a single parish council meeting this year.

Lord Gnome, the fictional publisher of Private Eye, has taken an interest in The Clarion’s probings.

The Clarion’s private requests to Council Leader (and Conservative group leader) Peter Jackson for answers regarding the absentee Councillor Roderick Lawrie have so far met with nothing but a polite “your email was received” reply from his office.

But the dozen parish councils and thousands of effectively unrepresented taxpayers at regional level DO have a voice that can be made to be heard.

Will the might of Private Eye elicit a response from Council Leader Peter Jackson?

Before each meeting of the full County Council, 30 minutes are set aside for questions to cabinet members from the public. The next meeting takes place at 2:30PM on Wednesday, September 4 at County Hall, Morpeth.

Any registered voter is allowed up to two questions which can be made in person at the meeting or submitted in writing to be read and a reply given.

Importantly, questions must be submitted in writing by post or email beforehand and the last time by which questions may be received is 12 noon, seven clear days before the full council meeting. In the case of the September 4 meeting it would mean that questions would need to be received by 12 noon on August 28.

According to the council website, questions should be about council functions or services and you must give your name, address, the name of the cabinet member being asked the questions and say whether or not you’ll be attending the meeting.

Questions should be short and meet the criteria set out in the council’s constitution.

As a result, The Clarion has submitted the following questions to Councillor Jackson:

Would the chairman agree that a sitting Northumberland County councillor who neither lives nor works in the County and since January has attended only ONE of the last FOUR full council meetings, only ONE local North area council meeting and – as far as my research has been able to establish – not a single parish council meeting this year is depriving thousands, of  Northumberland council taxpayers who live within the dozen parishes for which he has responsibility of the representation they have a right to expect?

Will the chairman use his good offices to persuade the county councillor for Norham and Islandshires that his conduct is damaging the wider interests of this council, his party and, more importantly, the very nature of regional democracy,  and that he should stand down and allow a byelection to take place?

A supplementary question will be permitted following the chairnan’s response.

Without doubt, the publication in Private Eye’s ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column of an excellent summary of The Clarion’s continued coverage will be mentioned.

The point is this: Public Question Time is open to anyone and any Northumberland Council taxpayer can submit written questions as we have done and either have them read and replied to or deliver them in person.

Please do.

Meanwhile, as The Clarion goes live with this piece, a reply has at last been received from Councillor Lawrie himself. It will be printed in full, and will follow shortly.

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