Disabled councillor to be thrown off Islington Council
PUBLISHED: 12:33 15 September 2011 | UPDATED: 14:23 20 September 2011
A disabled councillor who resigned from the Labour group last month may be forced out of the council for not spending enough time at Town Hall.
Cllr Joan Coupland, 69, who represents St Mary’s ward, will have to step down on October 1 if she does not attend another meeting – but there are none she can go to before that date.
And the former mayor, who lives on the Popham Estate, off New North Road, Islington, said the last five meetings she was due to be present at have been cancelled, although the council say only two of them were in the relevant period.
Before that, she struggled to attend due to health problems stemming from being struck by a scaffolding pole 18 months ago.
She said: “This is a knife in my back. It’s also totally out of the blue. This was never mentioned when I was with Labour, but now they bring it up when it is too late.
“If the meetings have been cancelled, how can I go to them? It’s not fair and it is not my fault. I stuck my neck out by leaving Labour and now I am paying the price.
“I topped the poll in St Mary’s and my constituents will not be happy. Labour have treated me like dirt.”
In the past, councillors have been given special dispensation for not going to meetings if they are ill.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition at Islington Council, said: “No one at the council told her about the dispensation, even though her resignation letter clearly stated she was fighting illness.
“This is a very murky chapter of Labour’s existence in Islington. Joan has been on the council for 14 years and to treat her like this is extremely under-handed. Apart from anything else, it will cost £15,000 of taxpayers money to stage an unnecessary by-election.”
Under the local government act, a councillor automatically stops being on the council if they do not attend a council meeting or a committee meeting they are a member of for six months.
A spokesman for the council said: “The last meeting Cllr Coupland attended was the council meeting of March 31, so she will cease to be a member of the council on October 1 unless her reasons for non-attendance are approved.”