'I feel let down by the system': district councillor axed for poor attendance quits Northamptonshire County Council cabinet role

Councillor Lizzy Bowen
Councillor Lizzy Bowen

The councillor who was axed from her district council seat for non-attendance has resigned her cabinet role on Northamptonshire County Council saying she feels "let down by the system".

Lizzy Bowen was "automatically disqualified" from her Whittlebury seat on South Northamptonshire Council last month because, as per the 1972 Local Government Act, she did not attend a formal council or committee meeting during a six-month period.

The last meeting Councillor Bowen attended, as per SNC's website, was a full council meeting on October 18, 2017. She sent apologies for a full council meeting on February 28 this year.

In a scathing response, the outgoing cabinet member has claimed she was let down on an agreement made with the leader of SNC and the county councillor for her district, who was to cover her Whittlebury duties

Councillor Bowen also says she was not told about being close to timing out and not advised that she could have asked for an extension to the exclusion rule that would have gone to a council vote.

Today she announced she has staood down from her adult social care cabinet role on the county council in which she oversaw the largest budget at the authority.

"There is only so much stress I will put up with and it is therefore with great sadness that I will return to the back benches at NCC," said Councillor Bowen (Con, Nene Valley).

"I have delayed taking this action until now because working with Anna Earnshaw and her team has been the most rewarding job of my varied career and I desperately didn’t want to let them down.

"The department do the most amazing job in very difficult circumstances. I will really miss working in cabinet with them."

She added: "I am available seven days a week, not just informally measured meetings, but on the phone, responding to letters and emails, reviewing documents, plans and budget papers."

Councillor Bowen's disqualification triggered a by-election in her SNC ward, which was won by Liberal Democrat Abigail Medina by a 130 vote margin.

Newly-elected Councillor Medina received 366 votes beating Conservative candidate Martin Barter's 236 votes and Labour's Adrian Scandrett's 44.

"At NCC I have responsibility for adult social care which in the current environment needs all my energy and reserves as we try to ensure we can meet the growing needs of our ageing and vulnerable population in challenging financial circumstances," said Councillor Bowen.

"This is as important for South Northants as anywhere else in the county, as they have a high level of elderly residents there.

"So I was truly shocked and saddened to receive notification and only after residents knew.

"I am very disappointed having put so much effort into my ward that I could not continue to see it through. I feel let down by the system."

She added: "For me this questions my faith in 'doing the right thing' and by putting the needs of the vulnerable in the community above my own.

"It is situations like these that put people off politics and only serves to damage the reputation of the Conservative party."

Leader of the county council Councillor Matt Golby said: “I have today accepted the resignation of Cllr Bowen from her position as cabinet member for adult social care.

“I would like to thank her for everything she has done in this role. Following this resignation I will be looking at what changes are required within cabinet and will announce further changes to our team in due course.”