Councillor's three-month holiday prompts expenses question
THAT'S the question some opposition members are asking of city councillor Jim Porter, who will miss nine meetings because he is abroad for three months.
While council members braved a cold night to make it to the full Gloucester City Council meeting last week, one of their number was believed to have been in sunnier climes.
The Longlevens Conservative's out of office email reply alerted a Labour member to his absence.
"I received an out of office reply which said he will be out of the country until April 14, 2013," said Councillor Matthew Gilson (L, Moreland). "There is a rumour he's been sent to Australia. Is he continuing to receive his allowance?"
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Mr Porter is entitled to £6,300 of allowances a year but since he was elected in 2008, has never claimed them, nor claimed expenses, council leader Paul James told Mr Gilson.
"In all his time here he is not receiving an allowance," said Mr James.
Mr Gilson appeared surprised and impressed.
"Wow," he replied, and sat down.
Mr James said he believed Mr Porter was spending most of the time in Australia.
Mr Porter is entitled to a basic allowance of £5,250 plus £1,050 for being vice-chairman of the licensing and enforcement committee. Mr Porter emailed The Citizen to clarify his position.
"I can confirm that I am away on holiday until the 14th of April," he wrote.
"I have been planning this for over two years and made a point of clearing this with our group leader before standing for re-election last May.
"All expenses and allowances that I have been entitled to since being first elected in 2008, I have donated to a local charity. These are deducted at source and sent direct to the charity. This will continue until my term finishes in May 2014."