Councillors who missed more than half of meetings revealed

Analysis of past year’s attendance records show which councillors are the tardiest, reports James Cracknell

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Enfield councillors who failed to attend more than half of the council meetings they were expected to in the last year can be revealed.

As voters headed to the polls this week to elect a new batch of councillors to represent them for the next four years, a Dispatch analysis of recorded attendances over the last twelve months found the average Labour member managed to miss one in five meetings, turning up to 80%, while the typical Conservative attended 87%.

The councillors who recorded less than 50% attendance were all Labour members, although only one has sought re-election.

Huseyin Akpinar, who represents Upper Edmonton, is contesting Bush Hill Park ward for the election. His attendance record was 43%, but he did not respond to a request for comment.

Among those not campaigning for re-election is Katherine Chibah, an associate cabinet member who recorded an average civic centre attendance over the past year of 43%. She also did not comment.

Saray Karakus, who went to 42% of the meetings she was expected to attend, said in her defence that attending meetings was only one aspect of her responsibilities as a councillor. She told the Dispatch: “Council meetings are important but looking after vulnerable individuals and doing casework
is more important.”

Cllr Karakus represented Haselbury but did not stand for re-election. The former Enfield mayor added: “Councillors should respond to resident queries and investigate their concerns, know their patch, and be aware of any problems.

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“Most of them [other councillors] don’t even know where their surgery sessions are.”

A fourth Labour councillor, with a 45% record, cited mitigating personal circumstances in their defence.

The Conservative councillor with the lowest attendance was Clare De Silva, who attended just over 55% of meetings. She has also not sought re-election.

Meanwhile, eleven councillors managed to achieve a 100% attendance record over the 2021/22 period; six were Labour councillors, four were Conservatives and one was a Green member. Both Labour and Conservative group leaders, Nesil Caliskan and Joanne Laban, were among those with spotless records. Another was Terry Neville, the council’s longest-serving member, who is now set to retire.

The two Green councillors over the past year averaged 93.5% attendance,
while the sole Liberal Democrat councillor prior to the election managed a 71% attendance.

Last year a by-election was triggered when former independent councillor Will Coleshill failed to attend a single meeting for six months. He was originally elected in Bush Hill Park ward as a Conservative in 2018, before later being suspended from the party.

All councillors are paid an annual allowance of £10,570, although those with special responsibilities, such as cabinet members and committee chairs, receive more.

The attendance data in this article was compiled by the Dispatch using publicly available printed minutes from council meetings held between May 2021 and April 2022. Informal meetings were not counted.

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