Tory attack on Lib Dem leader and former Euro MEP branded ‘utterly repellent’
PUBLISHED: 12:47 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 13 February 2020
Ely county councillor Bill Hunt criticised a fellow county councillor after claims she received £6,000 in allowances despite only attending two meetings owing to her role in the European Parliament.
The leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cambridgeshire County Council, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, was elected to the EU Parliament last May, a term which ended when the UK left the EU on January 31.
She resigned as leader of the Lib Dem county group when elected to the EU Parliament but was reselected to the role last Friday (February 7).
As the full council met on Tuesday (February 11) to agree its full budget, Conservative Cllr Hunt hit out at Cllr Nethsingha's attendance record while she still received her allowance, saying it undermined her party's criticisms of council waste.
Cllr Hunt said Cllr Nethsingha only attended two council meetings between June and January while her standard councillor allowance for the period comes to more than £6,000.
Lib Dem Cllr Lorna Dupre spoke up for her colleague, saying the allowance is not just for attending council meetings but for doing constituency work, which she said Cllr Nethsingha continued throughout.
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Cllr Dupre, who had stepped up as Lib Dem leader, said Cllr Hunt's remarks were "utterly repellent".
Speaking to the local democracy reporting service, Cllr Hunt said, "not even the most expensive lawyer in the country is worth £3,000 a meeting".
And he branded it "a waste of taxpayers' money".
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Nethsingha said: "That's my allowance for my work in my area in Newnham.
"I have been very busy in Newnham helping residents with all the things I have always helped them out with - parking issues, and potholes and meeting people, and all the stuff that normally goes on in my patch.
"I have continued my work as a local councillor, and I think that's perfectly reasonable."
She added: "I would have loved to have attended more than those two meetings, but I also took my role in the European Parliament very seriously.
"We have a number of councillors here who work full-time jobs - sometimes it's more difficult for them to attend meetings and that was true for me over the last six months."