BREAKING: Ashfield Labour councillor suspended due to 'poor attendance'

Ashfield District Councillor Chris Baron has been suspended from the leading council group, the Labour Party has announced

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 11:43 am
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 6:06 pm
Cllr Chris Baron, pictured with fellow Labour member Jim Aspinall.

But as the Chad attempts to contact councillors and leaders of the Labour group we have been met with a wall of silence in trying to find out why the councillor was suspended.

A statement from the Ashfield Labour group gave the official reasons as bad attendance, but other councillors have said that : "On September 5, Councillor Chris Baron was suspended from Ashfield Labour Group due to his poor attendance at meetings and failure to report absences to the relevant party officers.

"This decision was not taken lightly and only after Councillor Baron had received a formal warning about his attendance, when support was offered.

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"Ashfield Labour Party has high expectations of all its elected councillors, that is why this year the controlling Labour Group cut councillors pay by £500 and linked payments to attendance.

"Councillor Baron does have the right to appeal the decision, which only applies to Ashfield Labour Group meetings. This means that during the 3 months suspension Councillor Baron is still expected to carry out his role of councillor and attend all formal meetings of the council."

The Chad has been pursuing this story for several days but Labour Party members remained tight-lipped until after this week's edition was released yesterday morning.

Coun Baron said: "I wouldn't like to comment at this time."

Coun Ben Bradley said: "It's a shame - it seems as though councillors who are committed to working for the community rather than the Labour Party are basically being pushed out of the party.

"Chris has had absences but all have been legitimate whereas other Labour councillors have simply not shown up for meetings with no reason or apology and none of those councillors have been suspended which is why i don't think it's about attendance.

"Chris has been a member for 20-odd years. The in-fighting in the Labour Party nationally has spilled out locally."

Leader of the council Cheryl Butler said the reason for Coun Baron's suspension was his failure to notify the party when he couldn't attend so that the Chief Whip could 'put in substitutes' to push through votes

She said: "It's the fact that here are occasions where we've been left with members of our group not in attendance when votes and decisions are made as the ruling group.

"By not informing the chief whip it means we can't put substitutes in, and the fact we don't have enough people representing the Labour group, it runs the risk of decisions that need to go through."

Attendance records at Ashfield District Council show Coun Baron has had 14 authorised absences out of a possible 25 meetings, second only to Helen Smith for lack of attendance.

"The councillor had no unauthorised absences however, whereas former leader Glenys Maxwell had three last yer, Lauren Mitchell had four, Helen Smith had five and Sam Wilson had six.