Watton councillor with highest number of absences brands Breckland meetings “total waste of time”

A Watton councillor who recorded the joint-highest number of absences from Breckland Council meetings last year has branded full council meetings a 'total waste of time'.

Figures produced at last night's annual council meeting showed two councillors, Keith Gilbert representing Watton and Pauline Quadling representing Thetford Abbey, missed 11 meetings last year.

Both are independent councillors, not aligned to any political party. Overall, Breckland has 47 Conservative, four Labour and three independent councillors.

Mr Gilbert, who was not at last night's meeting, said: 'To be quite honest, full council in Breckland is a total waste of time. They are just a rubber stamp for the Tory group's policies.

'The other problem is that I do have a full-time job as a postman. It's not a job you can say 'I will do that tomorrow'. If I can't find someone to cover me it's very difficult, but if I have something to say at a meeting I will go.

'There are people who come to council meetings and never say a word but if I'm not at a meeting it does not mean I'm not doing my job. I speak out more than most people on issues.'

He was recorded as present at 11 meetings, in attendance at three, and absent from 11. He said he has spoken at planning committees he is not a member of, and does casework for local residents.

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Mrs Quadling, who was recorded as present at just four meetings last year, is currently out of the country and could not be contacted.

Six councillors, all Tory, had a perfect attendance record in 2011-12. They were Trevor Carter, Elizabeth Gould, Adrian Joel, Jenny North, Robert Richmond, John Rogers and Michael Wassell.