Sheringham councillor living in Kent says: “The Conservatives couldn’t win a raffle, let alone a by-election.”
Archant Norfolk 2014
Sheringham North’s ward councillor Doug Smith has come under fire this week both from the public, and the leader of the North Norfolk District Council.
It was revealed that Mr Smith is living in Kent but has remained working for the NNDC, which Conservative council leaders insist they condemned.
The Tory councillor also admitted that he is still receives a basic councillor’s allowance from the NNDC, despite having not attended a meeting since moving to Tunbridge Wells in late August.
Mr Smith insisted that the £5,050 he is accepting in councillor’s allowance is going to good use.
He said: “I can represent the people of Sheringham from Kent.
“Each councillor is given an iPad so I am working from here via that.
“They’re not paying me something for nothing.”
He added that he wouldn’t be against returning any of his wages to the NNDC.
He said: “I don’t think there is any way of doing it so that I can return my allowance to the district council, however that is something I will enquire about.”
Mr Smith also claimed that he had been instructed by the leaders of the Conservative party at the NNDC not to resign until the end of 2017, for fear that the party would lose a by-election when Mr Smith steps down.
He said: “The powers that be told me not to leave, and I am in their hands.
“So I won’t be resigning until Christmas or the New Year.
“With all the negative press at the moment the Conservative party in North Norfolk couldn’t win a raffle, let alone a by-election.”
This was denied by leader of the Conservative Group Tom FitzPatrick, who says that neither he nor any of the Conservative leaders asked Mr Smith to stay on, and in fact asked him to resign.
Mr FitzPatrick added: “I don’t believe councillor Smith can do his job from Kent.
“To be a councillor you need to participate both locally and across the whole district. And if you’re living 163 miles away you can’t do that,”
Despite having not attended a council meeting since June 21, Mr Smith confirmed that he will be commuting to North Norfolk for full council meetings in November and December.
Both Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Smith also confirmed that a new candidate for Sheringham North has been found.