Rogue councillor faces losing his seat again

Coun Robert Bleakley
Coun Robert Bleakley

A CONTROVERSIAL Wigan councillor faces losing his seat through non-attendance for the second time this year.

Coun Robert Bleakley has failed to turn up to full council meetings since January and therefore must attend at the next meeting in May.

If not, the independent representative for Tyldesley will breach local authority regulations which state that elected members must turn up for at least one meeting in every six-month period.

Coun Bleakley’s attendance at January’s full council meet - his first since the previous August - kicked off a tempestuous meeting at Leigh town hall as he was accused of “running at a rate of £2,000 an hour.” Council leader Lord Smith told the chamber: “Since the last meeting he has been described as the worst councillor in Britain.

“I would like to nominate him as one of the most expensive on the hours he puts in.

“He is running at a rate of £2,000 an hour on his current attendance, even a banker would be embarrassed at that rate.”

Coun Bleakley remained silent throughout but later told the Evening Post that the claims were “nonsense”.

When asked about his attendance rates earlier in the year, he pointed out that several Labour members also have less than favourable rates.

He added: “I am well known as the hardest working councillor in the borough and do my work where it matters, in the community.”

This week’s meeting, the last before the general and local elections, was wrapped up within four minutes, the shortest since 1978, according to Lord Smith.

Having been stripped of his place on the health and social care committee, the only meetings Coun Bleakley is able to attend are those of the full council with next month’s gathering the only one before his six month deadline is met.

According to the Wigan Council website, the Tyldesley independent’s attendance percentage stands at 30 per cent for the last 12 months.

Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 states: “If a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority.

“These include a meeting of any joint committee, joint board or other body where the functions of the authority are being discharged,”