Isle of Wight councillor, Julia Baker-Smith, insists she can still fulfil her role effectively – despite admitting she is splitting her time between the mainland and the Island.
Councillor Baker-Smith, who is a county councillor for Whippingham and Osborne, says she is spending time in Manchester due to family and work commitments.
However, the Labour member believes that this should not be held against her and that it will not affect her ability to serve her constituents.
Her comments come after members of the public reportedly questioned her long-term intentions in a meeting discussing the future of the East Cowes Umbrella Tree, held last Thursday (2).
Speaking to Isle of Wight Radio, Councillor Baker-Smith says she’s not the only councillor to split her time:
“A number of councillors work on the mainland and also fulfil their role effectively on the Island. I split my time but I tend to spend more time on the Island than I do on the mainland just as the MP [Bob Seely] did when he was a councillor and just as a number of other councillors do.”
She also says she has to work on top of her role because unlike Members of Parliament, she does not get “70 or 80 thousand pounds a year”:
“I feel that I have to spend a large proportion of my life in the public eye because of my councillor role which isn’t like being an MP. It’s something that comes with a £7,700 pounds a year allowance and I do have to work on top of that. And I do also have a personal, private and family life.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Baker-Smith has also confirmed that she has stepped down from East Cowes Town Council.
Her decision came after the Town Council allegedly “ignored” a report put together by her:
“The council asked me back in February to write a confidential report over a matter that had been ongoing. I wrote that report and conducted a number of interviews around that report. That report was then ignored for several months. I feel that that’s had a detrimental effect on the management and the finances of the Town Council.”
In response, Mayor of East Cowes Town Council, Peter Lloyd, says:
“Julia’s been hardworking and we got on well together. I can understand her reasons [for stepping down] and I support her.”