Cambridgeshire councillor who lives 400 miles away defies calls to give up £10,000 allowances after half-resigning

Cllr Donald Adey
Cllr Donald Adey
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“Disappearing Donald” Adey, the councillor who represents Trumpington while living 400 miles away in Fife, says he will now quit Cambridge City Council but still plans to continue as a Cambridgeshire County councillor.

The revelation comes as Cllr Adey’s city council colleagues claim he is not doing any work or attending meetings in the city, leaving them to pick up the slack and take on the extra load.

Cllr Adey has dismissed calls for his resignation from the county council, but says he is planning to step down from the city council.

This has been hailed as “half good news”, but there are promises of an “all-party coalition” forming to force Cllr Adey out with a change in the law, which is being dubbed “disappearing Donald’s law”.

Despite having left Cambridge last year to start a new life in Cupar, Fife, Cllr Adey has continued to claim £10,000 in allowances from the county council, as well as £4,500 from the city council.

Having not responded to repeated calls for comment for previous stories, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) travelled to Cllr Adey’s new address in Cupar to ask for his response to claims he is the wrong person for the job.

Cllr Adey said: “I am in Trumpington on a regular basis and sleeping in both the new bit of Trumpington and the old bit. I am seeing people there beyond just my friends. But the decision which I came to while I was away is I will be submitting my resignation from the city council.

“The city council is, in some ways, harder for me to cover. It’s hard to cover both bases. I have heard comments from my colleagues on the city council.”

Cllr Adey said he would submit his resignation next month during a 10 day window which allows his seat to be contested at the same time as others which are being fought during the city council elections in May anyway.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, welcomed Cllr Adey’s decision to step down, but said it is only “half good news”. Cllr Herbert promised all councillors would form an “all-party coalition” to oust Cllr Adey, calling for a new “disappearing Donald law” to unseat him.

Cllr Herbert said: “We welcome this half good news for Trumpington residents, and thank our determined and well-travelled local reporter for extracting one of the two resignation commitments local people need.

“But the message from residents, local councillors and the two councils is that it’s still not enough. Do the only decent thing you can do and resign both posts. Otherwise, you leave Trumpington without proper representation on the county council for more than two years and pocket another £20,000 that could be spent on protecting services under threat like Whitworth House [which supports young homeless women].

“Be in no doubt Donald that if you don’t also give up the county seat we will continue to work in an all-party coalition with the county council to press for a ‘Disappearing Donald law’ to end this and prevent anyone else repeating this elsewhere in the future.”

Lucy Nethsingha, leader of the Lib Dems at Cambridgeshire County Council (Cllr Adey’s old party), said staying on at the county council was “purely selfish”.

She added: “To stand down from one council is better than staying on at both, but still disgraceful.

“County pays far more than city so I’m sadly not surprised he’s chosen to stay on there, but he is the only county councillor for Trumpington, while for city there are two others, so it’s a purely selfish decision to stay on as county councillor.”

Cllr Nethsingha agreed there should be a change in the law so “disappearing councillors can be forced to stand down”.

As for why he won’t quit the county council, Cllr Adey said he would be freed up to concentrate more on the single authority.

“Of course [just resigning from city] won’t be good enough for some people,” said Cllr Adey. “However many positive steps you take, people will always choose to make a negative out of it.

“If my two colleagues are feeling they are having too much work they will have a new member.

Cllr Steve Count, leader of the county council, was contacted for comment.

Josh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service