How a Lincolnshire councillor got £23k for going to 19 meetings in 3 years
A county councillor has claimed £23,000 in allowances over three years despite attending just 19 council meetings – and living in Cambridgeshire. Now furious residents are calling for Conservative Sara Cliff to quit her seat.
Reverend Cliff lives in Soham and represents Lincoln East on Lincolnshire County Council.
Her ward, which covers Monks Road and the Tower Estate, is one of the most deprived areas in the country.
Between June 2009 and the start of this year, Ms Cliff attended just 19 from a possible 52 meetings of the county council.
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Fellow politicians say her attendance is unacceptable. Even her own party leader told the Echo it was "not good at all".
Labour county councillor John Hough claimed: "She is the missing woman. It is totally unacceptable.
"To have taken her allowance money and then appear to do very little, I believe, is scandalous. She needs to do the proper thing and resign immediately."
After being elected in May 2009, Ms Cliff moved to Soham - 119 miles from County Hall – to become a methodist minister in 2010.
Since then, her attendance has plummeted year on year.
Council records show Ms Cliff sat in on six from a possible eight committee meetings in 2009.
She went on to attend four from a possible 17 in 2010, and sat in on one meeting in 2011.
This year, she has relinquished any committee responsibilities.
Meanwhile, between winning her seat and last month, Ms Cliff attended eight from a possible 13 full county council meetings.
Local government rules state councillors must attend at least one meeting every six months.
Ms Cliff attended full council on December 9, 2011. Records show the next meeting she attended was full council on May 18, 2012.
A Lincolnshire County Council spokesman confirmed her poor attendance had been flagged up to the Conservative party by authority clerks. She is the only county councillor to have this happen in the three years of this council.
Top Tory and council leader Martin Hill told the Echo he had spoken to Ms Cliff about her attendance levels six months ago.
"There is no doubt her attendance of late has not been good at all," he said.
Each year county councillors are allocated £2,000 to spend on small schemes in their patch.
Ms Cliff did not spend a penny of her community budget in 2011.
In a statement to the Echo, Ms Cliff said: "I thoroughly enjoy representing the residents of the Lincoln East ward and make myself available as much as possible to local people who come to me for support."
Ms Cliff added that she attends fortnightly meetings of an adoption panel but council attendance records do not include these.