AN UNDER-FIRE councillor has been accused of “damaging the credibility of politics in Thurrock” before being threatened with removal from the Labour Party.
Cllr John Kent, the leader of Thurrock Labour, was asked by his Tory counterpart Phil Anderson whether he believes the lack of commitment being shown by Ockendon ward councillor Aaron Kiely is damaging the reputation of politics in Thurrock.
The councillor did not attend one meeting of the working group for housing policy earlier this year and has turned up at full council meetings just once every six months, to avoid being struck off.
The Gazette revealed last week he has not made one call from his council phone in six months and constituents can’t remember the last time he was at his own ward surgery.
At last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Kent said he could not “defend the indefensible”.
When asked by Cllr Phil Anderson about Cllr Kiely’s lack of commitment, Cllr Kent responded: “I’m not going to stand here and try to defend the indefensible. “Clearly, Cllr Kiely’s attendance and commitment is not what it should be. It is something I have raised with him consistently, not just this year, but towards the back end of last year as well.
“An investigation was being carried out independently of me and I don’t believe it has yet been completed. When it is, there is a process which will have to be gone through independently of the group in Thurrock.”
Cllr Anderson said: “Sadly local residents look at Cllr Kiely’s actions or inactions and then they look at me, they look at you and other elected members and they just say ‘you’re all the same’.”
Cllr Kent replied: “I am committed to either getting Cllr Kiely to where he is, or managing him out of the group.”