Questions asked over Linslade councillor’s long-term absence

Linslade
Linslade

Questions are being asked about the long-term absence of a Central Bedfordshire Councillor representing the ward of Linslade.

Cllr Ben Walker previously chaired the Leighton-Linslade partnership committee, but his attendance record at meetings currently stands at a low 17%. He last last attended a budget meeting on February 22.

Cllr Ben Walker

Cllr Ben Walker

According to one source, the councillor has moved to Southampton but Cllr Walker himself has not confirmed this – despite several attempts of the LBO to make contact since last Wednesday (May 2).

A spokesman for Central Beds Council said Cllr Walker had not resigned and they were unaware of his possible relocation.

The LBO also contacted the leader of the Conservatives on Central Bedfordshire Council, Cllr James Jamieson, for clarification on Cllr Walker’s status but so far there has been no comment.

Cllr Walker’s twitter profile shows 28 mentions of Southampton in the past year, including pictures of election canvassing and enquiries about bus timetables, with no mention of Linslade or Leighton Buzzard.

Central Bedfordshire Councillors are entitled to a basic annual allowance of £10,995. Records show Cllr Walker claimed no additions to this allowance in 2016-17.

Cllr Antonia Ryan, Leader of the Labour Group on CBC, said she had raised the question of Cllr Walker’s poor attendance before.

She said: “For centuries our politics has been founded on the idea that the people deserve adequate representation of their interests at every level of government.

“If Cllr Walker has indeed moved away from the area, it is his public duty to notify CBC of this and to step aside.

“If he has not, he is letting the voters down by his apathy towards his office. We call upon him to either explain himself and improve his attendance record, or to stand aside and allow Linslade’s voters to choose a new councillor who has their interests at heart.

“We also call upon his colleagues in South West Bedfordshire Conservative Association to impress upon him the seriousness of his obligations to the voters.”