Defiant: councillor who keeps missing meetings but makes it to lavish parties
Published 18/05/2009 | 05:15
An Ulster Unionist councillor has been urged to resign after attending a series of glamorous parties while claiming to be too sick to attend council meetings.
North Down councillor Diana Peacocke has received allowances of almost £20,000 in two years but has only attended 20 council meetings in her constituency.
Figures released by North Down Borough Council show that in the last ten months Ms Peacocke has put in an appearance at just 11 council meetings — a fraction of that attended by most of her council colleagues, and considerably less than all of her other councillors in North Down.
It is alleged she only stayed a few minutes at some of those meetings.
The DUP has called for Ms Peacocke to resign and concern has been growing in her own party after she was photographed in a glossy social magazine enjoying herself at parties.
The UUP said it viewed “with great concern the continuing non-attendance” of Ms Peacocke at council meetings and has promised the matter would be “dealt with very quickly”.
After being challenged about her attendance by the DUP last year Ms Peacocke claimed she had been too ill to attend meetings.
“Although I have not been able to attend as many council meetings as I would have liked due to my illness, much of a councillor’s work takes place outside the council chamber.
“I most certainly will not be resigning my seat, but getting well and getting on with responding to my electorate’s need,” she said at the time.
However, the councillor has come under fire from ratepayers and other councillors for accepting invites to various upmarket bashes during that time.
At the end of last year she was photographed in an edition of IN Magazine at the Rockport Ladies Lunch for mothers of children at private school Rockport, and at the launch of a new Hugo Boss fashion collection at Victoria Square.
DUP councillor Alex Easton has called on the UUP to take action.
“She’s obviously able to go out and enjoy herself, so I don’t know why she can’t attend her council meetings,” said Mr Easton.
“The Ulster Unionist Party should be taking action to resolve the situation.
“Diana came to a couple of meetings, around Christmas time, and then totally disappeared again.”
The Ulster Unionist Party said it is investigating her attendance.
Ms Peacocke has attended 11 council and committee meetings since last July and none since February. That is in contrast to some North Down Borough Council colleagues who have attended more than 60 meetings in the same time period and who receive the same £9,499.92 allowance.
The only other councillors who failed to attend at least 30 meetings in the same time were Independent member Austen Lennon, who turned up to 17 meetings, and Alliance councillor David Alderdice, who attended on 23 occasions.