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Calls for Pendle councillor who lives 172 miles away to step down
CALLS have been made for a county councillor to quit after it was revealed he works 172 miles away during the week.
Tory George Askew represents Colne and Nelson as a county councillor.
He lives and works in Cheltenham in the week but still claims his £10,000 allowance plus expenses.
Coun Askew hit back saying he owned his own house in Colne, was a council taxpayer and lived there with his partner when he wasn't in Gloucestershire.
And now Labour’s Mohammed Iqbal and Liberal Democrat Lord Tony Greaves are calling for him to step down.
Pendle Council Labour Leader Coun Iqbal said: ”As a county councillor he is supposed to represent the residents of Colne and Nelson and he cannot do that working during the week in Gloucestershire 175 miles away. I and other Labour County Councillors get asked where he is by people in his ward and have to refer their calls direct to officers."
Lord Greaves said Coun Askew seemed to be 'saying one thing to voters in Cheltenham and another to people he represents in Pendle.'
“The question is whether he is doing a proper job for the people he represents on Lancashire County Council. The answer is that he is not,” he said.
And they said having quit as a Pendle councillor in May when standing for the council in Cheltenham he should now resign from the county.
But County Coun Askew, who works for Cheltenham for Conservative Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, hit back saying that neither of them worked in the borough and he was fulfilling his duties to the people he represents in Pendle Central until the next county elections in May next year.
Lord Greaves highlighted comments made by the 28-year-old Tory to the local paper in Cheltenham, the Gloucesterhire Echo, on April 17: "I live and work in Cheltenham and that's that.
"I have said that I'm standing down in Lancashire and there's no danger of me trying to carry on, I'm definitely out of it.
"I'm fully committed to Cheltenham and resigning in Lancashire would lead to a by-election that would cost taxpayers thousands of pounds."
County Coun Askew has attended four out of the past five full county council meetings since last September.
He claimed his full £10,139 annual basic allowance as a county councillor and another £300 in mileage and subsistence allowance in 2011/12.
He said: “I do work in Gloucestershire but I do live in Colne where I own my own house, am a council tax payer and am there every week and live with my partner.
"This is just mischief making. I stood as a paper candidate in Cheltenham. I attend all my Lancashire County Council Meetings and I remain and active and committed councillor. There is no reason for me to stand down.
“Coun Iqbal doesn’t work in Pendle, Lord Greaves doesn’t work in Pendle and I don’t work in Pendle. That said the three of us manage to attend all our meetings and deal with all our casework. Where is the difference. There isn’t one.
“I do claim my full allowance. I am a fully active councillor who lives in the division he represents. I am completely committed to serving my full term on Lancashire County Council. There is no reason I would not.”
Lancashire County Council Deputy Tory Leader Albert Atkinson said County Coun Askew would attend a maximum of between 18 and 24 meetings a year of the full council and Conservative Group.
He added: “Whether County Coun Askew stands down is a matter for him and Pendle Conservative Association. I believe they have had him in to talk to them about this.
"Holding a by-election would cost between £20,000 and £30,000 - far more than his expenses for the coming year.”