Leave of absence

23 Feb

Sheila and Charlene

Spot the difference

At last night’s full council meeting members agreed to grant an extended leave of absence to long-serving Canning Town councillor Sheila Thomas.

Cllr Thomas hasn’t attended a meeting since last September due to ill health. If last night’s motion hadn’t been passed she’d have been removed from office on 21st March and a by-election called to fill the vacancy.

All very fair and decent. After all, it’s not Sheila Thomas’s fault she’s too poorly to go to meetings.

So why, I wonder, wasn’t the same courtesy extended to Charlene McLean last year when she was unable to attend after giving birth to an extremely premature baby, who required months of intensive care and attention? Cllr McLean believed she was on maternity leave. No-one bothered to tell her she wasn’t or to organise getting her to a meeting. She was expelled from the council. Happily, she regained her seat at the subsequent by-election.

Let’s be charitable and say that Newham Labour has learned its lesson. The alternative explanation is altogether less appealing.

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