April 20 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Blewett
Friday, January 10, 2014
A councillor who will die unless given a kidney transplant has been “sacked” for a six-month absence from council meetings despite being too unwell to attend in person.
Cllr Mark Logan, of the Independent Residents’ Group (IRG), has received some cross-party support in an attempt to have him reinstated.
Cllr Jeff Tucker, leader of the IRG, said: “It’s all he’s got to live for. To take it away from him is to kill him.”
Mr Logan, who was until December 28 the IRG member for Rainham and Wennington, has diabetes which led to kidney failure.
He undergoes dialysis three times a week, leaving him too sick to attend town hall meetings, but he continues to watch many online. Much of his treatment clashes directly with meetings.
Mr Tucker says he has apologised for his colleague’s absence at every meeting and no councillors or members of the executive have ever objected.
He says that Mr Logan is “invaluable” in carrying out research for the group and communicates with constituents.
However, under Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, failure to attend any meeting of the council for six months means automatic dismissal as a councillor.
Mr Logan said: “I have been sacked because of ill-health. [The council is] in breach of the Disabilities Discrimination Act 2005.
“I’ve been saving them money because I’ve not taken any allowance for six years. I’m completely flabbergasted.”
The council may agree for a councillor being absent for longer but an application must be submitted.
The IRG believed that, as it was too close to upcoming elections for a by-election to be held, Mr Logan’s position was safe.
Labour councillor Paul McGeary said: “It seems draconian applying this rule despite his health. Someone could’ve flagged this up.”
Conservative councillor Lynden Thorpe said: “I am extremely sorry that such an unpleasant action was taken to a seriously ill person.”
Cllr Tucker is petitioning for an extraordinary council meeting to seek Mr Logan’s reinstatement.
A council spokesman said: “At no time has dispensation been sought by the leader of IRG.
“No explanation for the missed meetings was given since Mr Logan’s last attendance.
“While we are sorry to hear about Mr Logan’s health, the rules are quite clear and should have been followed.”