Quit if you have family problems

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A LEADING councillor has prompted a barrage of bickering after he publicly blasted a female colleague for missing too many meetings.

West Bletchley town council member Nigel Long labelled Green party councillor Fran Hill a “poor attendee” in the latest Labour newsletter.

Now his words have caused another rift in a parish that has record of personal squabbles, political spats and even one episode of fisticuffs.

Mr Long, also a Labour councillor for Milton Keynes, wrote: “There are a group of Green and Independent councillors on the parish who rarely turn up. They still pocket their allowances. They also have a record of attacking Labour.’

Furious Fran has now lodged an official complaint, saying she missed meetings because her mother has advanced cancer and her sister has suffered three tragic stillbirths in the past nine months.

She lost twins in January at 25 weeks pregnant and another baby two weeks ago at 27 weeks.

Ms Hill say she reported these troubles to clerk and warned her attendance might suffer.

This week Mr Long denied he had been deliberately unsympathetic. “Of course I have sympathy for anyone with family problems, but the fact is that Councillor Hill should resign if she can’t carry out the job she’s paid to do.

“I suggested she stand down and return later when she has fewer personal commitments.”

Ms Hill, who receives the standard £709 annual councillor’s allowance, has attended three council meetings this year, 33 per cent of her required total.

Ironically Mr Long has also notched up three meetings, but because he is on fewer committees, has 60 per cent attendance.

He denied allegations from Ms Hill’s supporters that he is a “champagne socialist” who spends long holidays in a “luxury villa” in Italy.

“We have a two bedroom house in a working glass hill village. We drink local wine at 30 cents a glass and I have never tasted champagne in my life,” he said.

Joining Ms Hill in her protest are fellow Green councillors Liz Campbell and Tony Mabbott..

“They are a gang of three causing problems,” claimed Mr Long. “Cllr Tony Mabbott was convicted of assaulting a women in 2007.  He was then blocked from being a Labour Party candidate.

 “Since his conviction he and a small group of anti-Labour councillors have been challenging Labour councillors in West Bletchley in an often forceful way.”

Mr Mabbott retorted: “This is typically irrelevant. Mr Long needs to answer the relevant questions.”