Oxfordshire County Council is to consider whether to publish an annual report of which councillors attend or miss meetings.
The suggestion was put forward by Councillor John Howson (Lib Dem, St Margaret’s) in a follow-up to his question over how many councillors had failed to attend any meeting of full council and send apologies since May this year.
The response, issued through Councillor Liz Leffman (Lib Dem, Charlbury & Wychwood), leader of the council, was that there had been none, meaning that anyone not attending had let the council know in advance or sent apologies via their political group leaders.
Minutes of full council meetings from May to November list two councillors – Councillor Hannah Banfield (Lab, Banbury Grimsbury & Castle) and Councillor Ian Corkin (Con, Ploughley) – as having missed three out of the four meetings to have taken place during that time.
Councillors Damian Haywood (Lab, Iffley Fields & St Mary’s), Jane Murphy (Con, Didcot East & Hagbourne), Alison Rooke (Lib Dem, Abingdon East), Mark Lygo (Lab, Marston & Northway) and Michele Paule (Lab, Rose Hill & Littlemore) have missed two each.
Councillor Nick Field-Johnson (Con, Burford & Carterton North) also missed two but was set to be granted special dispensation to miss meetings until the end of this year for family reasons, a request that was withdrawn after he attended the latest meeting on 01 November.
Councillors Banfield, Corkin, Murphy, Field-Johnson, Lygo and Paule were among 18 members to miss the meeting held on Friday, 07 October, which was rescheduled from the initial date of 13 September following the passing of Elizabeth II.
In his follow-up question, Councillor Howson asked Councillor Leffman: “Some councils publish annual statements, similar to those in other areas of public life, detailing attendance records at meetings.
“I wonder what your view, as leader, is of such arrangements and whether they have any place in assisting increased transparency of the work of this council.”
Councillor Leffman replied: “I think you raise a very good question, Councillor Howson.
“Indeed, I know some councils in Oxfordshire do that, and I think it is something we probably ought to investigate.
“If you are elected as a councillor, there is a responsibility to attend meetings, and we need to know councillors are doing that.
“I am happy to take that away and discuss it with officers.”