Linslade councillor once again under fire over poor attendance record

A councillor from Linslade has once again come under fire for his poor attendance at council meetings.

Cllr Ben Walker represents Linslade on Central Bedfordshire Council, although he is thought to have moved to Southampton last year.

In 2017/18, Cllr Walker attended just four out of 14 CBC meetings and claimed his full allowance of £10,995.

Now, independent CBC councillor Adam Zerny has criticised the leader of the council for taking no action.

At a CBC meeting last week, Cllr Zerny said: “[His] employer would appear to be in Southampton. Now that’s a very long way from Leighton Buzzard.

“So Cllr Walker does have very much my sympathies if he’s commuting for maybe five or six hours a day and still managing to do all his case work.

“He doesn’t quite so much have my sympathies for the £10,995 of councillors’ basic allowance which he claimed during that year where he attended just four meetings.

“That works out at £2,748 per meeting.”

CBC leader Cllr James Jamieson has persistently refused to comment upon Cllr Walker’s absenteeism, despite several requests from the LBO.

In response to Cllr Zerny’s criticism, Cllr Jamieson said: “I would be delighted if I had the power to ask people to step down in their wards if they would, and I could think of some very good nominations for that position.”

The meeting prompted BBC Three Counties Radio to visit Cllr Walker’s stated address in Hanover Court, where they asked bemused neighbours if they recognised him.

In a statement, Cllr Walker said: “Owing to some medical issues over the last year, my attendance has fallen below what I would have liked it to be.

“However, council work takes many forms including undertaking casework and speaking with officers to improve the ward so there is plenty that goes on behind the scenes.

“I remain one of the lowest claiming councillors at Central Bedfordshire in terms of allowances and have been for the last three years. Like all councillors, I have to balance work commitments, family commitments and council commitments, which I am sure is a feeling all people can relate to.”