Councillor says ‘I can do job from Thailand’

The Oxford Times: Steve Hayward still represents Ducklington on West Oxfordshire District Council despite living in South East Asia since June Steve Hayward still represents Ducklington on West Oxfordshire District Council despite living in South East Asia since June

A DISTRICT councillor has said he is still able to fullfill his duties despite living more than 8,500 miles away from the area he represents.

Steve Hayward still represents Ducklington on West Oxfordshire District Council despite living in South East Asia since June.

The former Mayor of Witney now helps to run two restaurants and a rice farm.

And he still claims his annual councillor allowance of more than £4,000 – which is being paid to him in monthly installments.

Mr Hayward – a former lorry driver – was first elected to as representative for Ducklington in 1999, but plans to stand down at the elections in May.

Last year he resigned from the Conservative Party after being “sacked” from a committee position and was deselected from his seat on Oxfordshire County Council.

Since the end of June he has attended one meeting – Cabinet in November – and can only vote on West Oxfordshire issues if attending a meeting in person. But he has said he would fly back to Witney if his presence was needed.

He said: “I have kept in contact with council officers, fellow councillors, constituents and others who have contacted me over this time. Using the telephone, e-mail 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 councillors have been able to help when immediate action was necessary, much the same as if I was driving my lorry or out of the area.”

Mr Hayward – listed by the council as being a member of three committees – owns a 10 per cent stake in and runs two restaurants and bars in Khao Lak plus a small share in a rice and sugar farm.

The district council is still paying him his basic allowance of £4,350 a year.

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 councillor 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 councillor to attend at least one council meeting in any six month period to remain in office.

“A councillor 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.”

Former chairman of Ducklington parish council Gordon Clack, who lives in Witney Road, said: “It is outrageous We keep hearing about cuts, but we never hear about cuts to councillor 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 councillors.

“I cannot see how he can do his job. If someone choses to live abroad surely the moral thing to do is to resign.”

Comments (11)

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8:40am Wed 5 Feb 14

Zaxharias Ziegla says...

A true Brit, 2014 style!
A true Brit, 2014 style! Zaxharias Ziegla
  • Score: 1

8:47am Wed 5 Feb 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Highlights just how pathetic our local government system really is.
Highlights just how pathetic our local government system really is. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: -23

8:58am Wed 5 Feb 14

DEnright says...

Rubbish Steve. You should have stepped down when you decided to leave the country.
Rubbish Steve. You should have stepped down when you decided to leave the country. DEnright
  • Score: 7

9:27am Wed 5 Feb 14

Fred Chilvers says...

If Hayward is correct in saying that he can do the job as well from his base in Thailand as when he lived in Witney, it's no wonder the Tories sacked him from his committee chairmanship and deselected him as a county council candidate. He must have been a very poor councillor (albeit an over-rewarded one).

If he deigns to return for any future council meetings I hope the good people of Ducklington will arrange a welcome home reception party so that he is in no doubt about how he is regarded.
If Hayward is correct in saying that he can do the job as well from his base in Thailand as when he lived in Witney, it's no wonder the Tories sacked him from his committee chairmanship and deselected him as a county council candidate. He must have been a very poor councillor (albeit an over-rewarded one). If he deigns to return for any future council meetings I hope the good people of Ducklington will arrange a welcome home reception party so that he is in no doubt about how he is regarded. Fred Chilvers
  • Score: 3

9:31am Wed 5 Feb 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe wrote:
Highlights just how pathetic our local government system really is.
Local government was built around the needs and communication facilities of the 18th & 19th centuries.

It's time for a massive change.
[quote][p][bold]Sandy Wimpole-Smythe[/bold] wrote: Highlights just how pathetic our local government system really is.[/p][/quote]Local government was built around the needs and communication facilities of the 18th & 19th centuries. It's time for a massive change. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

11:10am Wed 5 Feb 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

I suggest they call him back for a few meetings, a dozen or so a month, for a few months, I'm sure he'll quit when his travel expenses decimate his allowance, and a possibly bankrupt him.
I suggest they call him back for a few meetings, a dozen or so a month, for a few months, I'm sure he'll quit when his travel expenses decimate his allowance, and a possibly bankrupt him. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 4

11:11am Wed 5 Feb 14

icba1957 says...

With him in Ducklington and Silvester in Henley it just goes to show the utter comptempt in which these "representatives" hold the people they are supposed to represent.
It's not that different from paying winter heating allowance to pensioners who live in Spain!
Time for a complete overhaul of some of our systems.
With him in Ducklington and Silvester in Henley it just goes to show the utter comptempt in which these "representatives" hold the people they are supposed to represent. It's not that different from paying winter heating allowance to pensioners who live in Spain! Time for a complete overhaul of some of our systems. icba1957
  • Score: -1

1:07pm Wed 5 Feb 14

YellowRose says...

Unbelievable that the situation was allowed in the first place. Seems so dishonest. However, following a grilling from Malcolm Boyden on Radio Oxford this morning, Hayward has confirmed he will resign. Hooray!
Unbelievable that the situation was allowed in the first place. Seems so dishonest. However, following a grilling from Malcolm Boyden on Radio Oxford this morning, Hayward has confirmed he will resign. Hooray! YellowRose
  • Score: 7

4:45pm Wed 5 Feb 14

cb1917 says...

I wonder if Mr Hayward is a supporter of the extreme right wing "yellow shirts" in Thailand who are at this very moment trying to oppose the democratic will of the Thai electorate and want to impose an unelected body of notables to run the country.
I wonder if Mr Hayward is a supporter of the extreme right wing "yellow shirts" in Thailand who are at this very moment trying to oppose the democratic will of the Thai electorate and want to impose an unelected body of notables to run the country. cb1917
  • Score: 0

10:11am Thu 6 Feb 14

Dolly76 says...

icba1957 wrote:
With him in Ducklington and Silvester in Henley it just goes to show the utter comptempt in which these "representative
s" hold the people they are supposed to represent.
It's not that different from paying winter heating allowance to pensioners who live in Spain!
Time for a complete overhaul of some of our systems.
Mr Hayward has served his community well over the years.
As for winter fuel allowances being paid to pensioners abroad, they have worked hard all their lives and paid in. They deserve the additional payment as much as any UK based pensioner. It's the people living off benefits and those who cheat the system and who don't make any contribution that you should be worrying about.
[quote][p][bold]icba1957[/bold] wrote: With him in Ducklington and Silvester in Henley it just goes to show the utter comptempt in which these "representative s" hold the people they are supposed to represent. It's not that different from paying winter heating allowance to pensioners who live in Spain! Time for a complete overhaul of some of our systems.[/p][/quote]Mr Hayward has served his community well over the years. As for winter fuel allowances being paid to pensioners abroad, they have worked hard all their lives and paid in. They deserve the additional payment as much as any UK based pensioner. It's the people living off benefits and those who cheat the system and who don't make any contribution that you should be worrying about. Dolly76
  • Score: 1

12:37pm Thu 6 Feb 14

YellowRose says...

We are informed that he has changed his mind and is NOT resigning yet, merely foregoing 90% of the annual allowance.
We are informed that he has changed his mind and is NOT resigning yet, merely foregoing 90% of the annual allowance. YellowRose
  • Score: 0

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