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Is Oz-based councillor back home for good?

PUBLISHED: 15:52 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 25 August 2010

A COUNCILLOR who has been representing his ward from the other side of the world for the past year is set to return to England in the next week.

A COUNCILLOR who has been representing his ward from the other side of the world for the past year is set to return to England in the next week.

Labour councillor Danny Thorpe who moved to Australia early last year but still kept his council seat is set to return to the UK.

Thorpe offered to resign from his marginal Shooters Hill seat before his trip but Leader of Greenwich council Chris Roberts refused to accept his resignation saying he would inspire young people to get into politics.

But Leader of the Conservatives at Greenwich council Spencer Drury said the Thorpe 'debacle' is not a good example for young people.

He said: "Just because we have a young councillor doesn't mean they can go away for a year.

"Would the leader take the same line if it was a young Tory councillor? Is it a general principle?

"There is an open acknowledgement with the Labour councillors that it is not right.

"In some cases you have to hold your hands up and say this looks wrong."

Another source told the Times that Mr Thorpe's Labour councillors were left fuming at the way this was handled but have felt unable to speak out.

This comes after the Times revealed that Deputy Leader of the Labour party at Greenwich council Peter Brooks did not deny paying for Thorpe's £1,500 return air fare.

This was for a 'last minute' meeting on September 18 last year which the opposition claimed was only held so the Thorpe did not lose his seat.

A spokesperson for Greenwich Labour Group said: "It was felt that to have forced him to give up his seat as a councillor would have discouraged other young people from getting involved in public life.

"Before he embarked on his tour, Mr Thorpe arranged for his councillor allowances to be stopped and for his colleagues to take on case work and regular surgeries on his behalf. He has remained in regular contact with them via email.

"He is expected to return to Greenwich within the next week and is looking forward to once again fully representing his constituents of Shooters Hill."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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