Councillor claims he can balance local government role in England with permanent job 5,000km away in Riyadh
A British local government councillor is facing calls to step down after it was revealed he had taken up a full-time job working in Riyadh, nearly 5,000 km away from the local borough he was elected to serve, it was reported.
The Daily Mail newspaper revealed that Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Whittle, who represents Fareham Borough Council, in Hampshire, had taken up a full-time £180,000 ($302,963)-a-year job as director of contracts for the Colleges of Excellence in Riyadh.
Local political rivals in the area in southern England claim it is not possible for Whittle to juggle a full-time job in the Middle East with his responsibilities as a councillor, a role for which he is paid an allowance of £13,000 per year.
The report claimed Whittle has missed six of his 14 committee meetings since he took up employment in the Saudi capital and had not shown up to any smaller committees he sits on and sent representatives on his behalf instead.
Opponents also claim he failed to show to the recent Local Government Association conference, a major event on the annual calendar for local politicians.
“You can either be in your ward or working abroad, you cannot do both,” the council's deputy Conservative leader Trevor Cartwright was quoted as saying.
Political rival, Ukip's Chris Wood, added: “Someone working in Saudi Arabia will find it difficult to hold the Conservative administration to account.”
However, Whittle defended his dual roles by claiming his role in Saudi Arabia is flexible and that he is always contactable by email or phone.
“I always attend council meetings to fulfil my duties to my residents and the council. I am one of the few who work, I get a little bit irritated when you say 'how can you be a councillor and work?' If somebody can prove that I would not be able to represent residents then they would have a point. Nobody could suggest that I do not work hard and do my job,” Whittle was quoted as saying.