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Councillor must speak up or stand down

PUBLISHED: 09:56 07 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 06 July 2010

A WAVENEY councillor has called for a fellow member to stand down after accusing him of being "unheard of" in the ward he represents.

Graham Elliott spoke out at a Waveney District Council meeting, when he urged Gary Ruickbie to step down and trigger a by-election for the Beccles South seat.

A WAVENEY councillor has called for a fellow member to stand down after accusing him of being “unheard of” in the ward he represents.

Graham Elliott spoke out at a Waveney District Council meeting, when he urged Gary Ruickbie to step down and trigger a by-election for the Beccles South seat.

But Waveney leader Mark Bee has defended Conservative councillor Mr Ruickbie, saying that exceptional personal circumstances had made carrying out his duties difficult over the past year since he was elected.

Mr Elliott, who represents Beccles North for the Green Party, said that Mr Ruickbie did not attend meetings regularly, did not sit on any committees, and had no contact with Beccles town hall or the residents in his ward.

Mr Elliott said he felt compelled to speak out publicly after raising the issue privately with Mr Bee and Waveney's chief executive Stephen Baker had not sparked a change.

“I think it's completely immoral that somebody is elected to represent the people of Beccles and they are not doing it,” he said. “He just is unheard of in Beccles and I think that's completely wrong.”

He added that Mr Ruickbie's councillor allowance of more than £3,000 could have been put to better use.

Beccles Town Council's clerk confirmed that although he was under no obligation to do, Mr Ruickbie had never attended one of its meetings, unlike the other three members who represent the town at Waveney. Beccles mayor Jack Walmsley said: “It is extremely regrettable when a district councillor for one of the wards in Beccles doesn't from time to time come into the council to answer questions and tell us about what he or she is doing for the council.

“He was a paper candidate and wasn't expected to be elected. However, if you going to stand as a paper candidate there's always the outside chance that you will be elected.”

A Waveney District Council spokesman confirmed that Mr Ruickbie received his 2008-09 allowance of £3,208 and had not breached any obligations. He revealed that Mr Ruickbie attended five out of eight full council meetings since being elected last May, but missed a spell of more than six months between November 2008 and June this year.

Mr Bee said Mr Ruickbie was a committed council member who had suffered a number of personal setback during the past year.

“Cllr Ruickbie has had a very difficult time but knowing him, this will make him stronger.”

He said Mr Ruickbie was now looking to play an ever-increasing role in the town's affairs.

Mr Ruckbie said: “I was very proud to be elected ward councillor in Beccles and I am very grateful to Cllr Bee for the support he has shown me during these difficult times.”

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