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Councillors hit back at Express report on meeting attendances

Royal Borough councillors were quick to respond with criticism to a story on their attendance published in last week's Express.

The article found 19 out of 56 councillors missed a quarter or more of their council meetings from April 2016-April 2017.

The information was taken directly from the Royal Borough website, including the percentage figures.

Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) said the feature expected councillors to work 365 days a year, and did not take holidays into account in the report.

Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Cookham and Bisham) tweeted: “I was a bit shocked to run a diary query for the last year and found I’d been at 201 meetings and spent over 1,000 hours on council business.”

Cllr Colin Rayner (Con, Horton and Wraysbury) tweeted: “I will cancel my hospital operation and my stay in hospital and leave my sick bed next to make sure I keep my attendance!”

Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield) accused the feature of being put together without ‘thought or consultation’, adding reporters should ‘do your job right’.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor) was positive. She said: “Good journalism but some councillors do more behind the scenes than others as well. You can usually tell by their input at meetings.”

She added: “I appreciate good journalism and transparency. If the council publishes the data then they can be challenged on it. Democracy.”

Cllrs Coppinger, Hill and Jones all had attendance of above 75 per cent.

One councillor sent over a new photo of themselves to be used with future articles.

Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray), who had not responded in time for last week’s article, said his 69 per cent attendance was due to family health issues.

The feature received a lot of positive feedback from residents.

On Twitter, Michael Wadley said: “Your feature has hit a nerve. The reaction from some councillors has been astonishing and illuminating.”

Richard Endacott tweeted: “No one expects 100 per cent, however some councillors attendance is less than 60 per cent. I hear some of those excuses from my sixth formers.”

The Express is still yet to hear from Cllr Nicola Pryer (67 per cent), Cllr Hashim Bhatti (62 per cent), Cllr David Evans (72 per cent) and Cllr Judith Diment (60 per cent).

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