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How a Lincolnshire councillor got £23k for going to 19 meetings in 3 years

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

Sara Cliff

Reverend Sara Cliff, who represents Lincoln East.

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A county councillor has claimed £23,000 in allowances over three years despite attending just 19 council meetings – and living in Cambridgeshire. Now furious residents are calling for Conservative Sara Cliff to quit her seat.

Reverend Cliff lives in Soham and represents Lincoln East on Lincolnshire County Council.

Her ward, which covers Monks Road and the Tower Estate, is one of the most deprived areas in the country.

Between June 2009 and the start of this year, Ms Cliff attended just 19 from a possible 52 meetings of the county council.

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Fellow politicians say her attendance is unacceptable. Even her own party leader told the Echo it was "not good at all".

Labour county councillor John Hough claimed: "She is the missing woman. It is totally unacceptable.

"To have taken her allowance money and then appear to do very little, I believe, is scandalous. She needs to do the proper thing and resign immediately."

After being elected in May 2009, Ms Cliff moved to Soham - 119 miles from County Hall – to become a methodist minister in 2010.

Since then, her attendance has plummeted year on year.

Council records show Ms Cliff sat in on six from a possible eight committee meetings in 2009.

She went on to attend four from a possible 17 in 2010, and sat in on one meeting in 2011.

This year, she has relinquished any committee responsibilities.

Meanwhile, between winning her seat and last month, Ms Cliff attended eight from a possible 13 full county council meetings.

Local government rules state councillors must attend at least one meeting every six months.

Ms Cliff attended full council on December 9, 2011. Records show the next meeting she attended was full council on May 18, 2012.

A Lincolnshire County Council spokesman confirmed her poor attendance had been flagged up to the Conservative party by authority clerks. She is the only county councillor to have this happen in the three years of this council.

Top Tory and council leader Martin Hill told the Echo he had spoken to Ms Cliff about her attendance levels six months ago.

"There is no doubt her attendance of late has not been good at all," he said.

Each year county councillors are allocated £2,000 to spend on small schemes in their patch.

Ms Cliff did not spend a penny of her community budget in 2011.

In a statement to the Echo, Ms Cliff said: "I thoroughly enjoy representing the residents of the Lincoln East ward and make myself available as much as possible to local people who come to me for support."

Ms Cliff added that she attends fortnightly meetings of an adoption panel but council attendance records do not include these.

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  • Bob_Ovett  |  June 15 2012, 2:39PM

    Sorry if this is a duplicate post.... Where are the TaxPayers Alliance in all of this?? I know they issued some glib statement in the printed version of the Lincs Echo about 'if you don't like it you can vote them out' but usually they are first to slam council staff and services. The TPA are very vocal in the media regarding their desire to slash services and portray even the most menial council worker as a money grubbing parasits. Maybe their high morals and deficit reduction desire doesn't stretch to Tory councillors?

    Rate   4
  • OldNan  |  June 15 2012, 2:25PM

    Shows that being religious does not necessarily mean being moral - or wise. Certainly this woman should get the boot. The Council needs (and fortunately most of them are) representatives who really do represent the people who have elected them, and take an interest and responsibility in the place and people. Not just regard the position as an unearned source of extra income. It may be expecting too much that someone like that would open her handbag and give back to the community what she has taken, and not earned, but at least the Council might be able to get rid of her for abusing her position. There are a lot of better people in Lincoln who can take her place.

    Rate   2
  • ThornyRay  |  June 14 2012, 11:42PM

    Is this not just the basic allowance that all Councillors get? Or is it extra on top? If it's extra I'd be shocked, if not, then I think this is just the media stirring up the same old story again. There are plenty of Councillors from all parties who claim the same money and do no work, they don't have to live in a different County for that. The simple fact is the system is wrong, Lincoln City is run by a man who doesn't live in Lincoln. Why do we need so many of them? 33 for Lincoln and 77 for the County, it's time we started cutting back on Councillors.

    Rate   8
  • West_Lindsey  |  June 14 2012, 7:24PM

    Sadly money is the new GOD; County Councillors know how strapped for cash the elderly and children's services are as provisioned by Lincolnshire County Council, they show there true colours when expenses are available. Gone are people wishing to provide time and assistance as respected pillars of their communities, instead voting and receiving raised expenses money seems the objective first and foremost.

    Rate   7
  • 210mari  |  June 14 2012, 5:38PM

    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not steal. She seems to be making her own rules to suit her, and to hell with everyone else.

    Rate   7
  • Lincoln_Biker  |  June 14 2012, 5:04PM

    Thou shalt not commit adultery is one of the ten commandments, yet this reverend is clearly screwing the system.

    Rate   12
  • 210mari  |  June 14 2012, 4:36PM

    She is obviously a liar and cheat, but is that not typical British Politics.

    Rate   8
  • Roadscource  |  June 14 2012, 12:51PM

    What next Lincoln County Councillors living in Benidorm? But lets not knock em, lets join em !

    Rate   11
  • Nei11_Lincoln  |  June 14 2012, 11:52AM

    She should be shamed and give the £23,000 back, which comes from hard working people!

    Rate   21
  • thomastom  |  June 14 2012, 11:14AM

    I sent Rev Cliff an email last year as she had some Highways responsibility. I did not receive a reply. So distance was but one element in the `under-representation'.

    Rate   18