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Councilor Steve Hayward from the UK is pocketing £4,000 a year despite living thousands of miles away from his constituents in Thailand. The former mayor, and councilor for Ducklington for fifteen years moved to Khao Lak last June and claims that he can still do his UK based job via Skype. He has only attended one meeting since the move and cannot vote if he is not present, however he says he would fly back if he was needed.
Living a life far removed from his old one in Whitney, he now helps to run two restaurants as well as a rice and sugar farm. He said “I have kept in contact with council officer, fellow councilors, constituents and others who have contacted me over this time, using the telephone, email and Skype, I believe I have an excellent record of replying quickly. It has been one of my busiest years and I have been able to quickly deal with four council housing allocations and able to help in several local planning issues, mostly with satisfactory outcomes. I have been lucky that fellow councilors have been able to help me when immediate action was necessary, much the same as if I was driving my lorry out of the area.
Former lorry driver Hayward’s allowance of £4,350 is paid to him in monthly installments. He resigned from the Conservative Party last year after being sacked from a committee position and was deselected from the Oxfordshire County Council.
Former chairman of Ducklington parish council Gordon Clack said: ‘It is outrageous. We keep hearing about cuts, but we never hear about cuts to councilor expenses. ‘I spent about 12 years on our parish council and my home was an office, but I never claimed a penny. Now you have professional councilors. ‘I cannot see how he can do his job. If someone chooses to live abroad surely the moral thing to do is to resign.’
To seek council election a candidate must, on the day of their nomination, be an elector in the local authority area, own land or premises there, have their main place of work there or have lived there for the whole of 12 months before the day of the election. Once elected, a councilor does not have to resign if none of these criteria no longer apply. West Oxfordshire District Council chief executive David Neudegg said: ‘The minimum legal requirement is for a councilor to attend at least one council meeting in any six month period to remain in office. ‘A councilor cannot be disqualified by the district council if they move out of the area. It is up to them to decide whether they should continue or resign.’