An SNP councillor who missed over 40 meetings in a year because he lives in Austria has defended his public record, despite calls for him to resign.
Cllr Arthur Morrison, who represents Kirkcaldy east and draws an annual salary from the taxpayer of £16,000, told the Press he felt he had been put on trial.
“I think it’s a bit unfair to penalise me,” he said.
“My conscience is clear in thatI do feel I’m doing a good job. I feel I have been an effective councillor and have made a difference to my constituents.”
Questions were raised about Cllr Morrison’s ability to serve his ward after the Press revealed last week he attended only seven of 47 committee meetings held in 2013/14.
And, from April 1 until yesterday (Wednesday) had attended only two more.
Furthermore, complaints had been raised by a disillusioned SNP member, as well as constituents (see lead reader’s letter, page 22) that it was difficult to contact him abroad.
Speaking to the Press, Cllr Morrison explained he lived in a hotel in Austria, where he was an employee of a Swiss company, providing consultancy on semi-conductors.
“Sometimes the Fife Council email is a bit iffy,” he acknowledged. “My net connection has been a bit iffy.
“I think email is the way forward and I’ve been in talks with Fife Council over the possibility of Skype consultations between Austria and Kirkcaldy.”
He revealed he returned to Fife for a period of one week every four to six weeks to attend to his councillor’s duties, and his Fife salary “helped” with the cost of air fares.
“The only reason I come back is because of my constituency,” he stressed.
Cllr Morrison also revealed his work overseas could conceivably end in the forthcoming weeks or months, but if it continued for another “year or so” he would “definitely reconsider his position”.
“I believe being a councillor you can make a big difference, I’ve been able to save people their homes, for example. It’s rewarding.
“That’s the reason I didn’t immediately resign.
“If it’s a yes vote I will definitely reconsider my position. If it’s a no vote I will take advice from the party.”
He added: “I’m a highly experienced and qualified person and provide an opportunity for my constituents to be able to access an expertise that perhaps my fellow councillors do not have.”
According to Fife Council, councillors are only required by law to attend one meeting in a six-month period.
Linda Bissett, democratic services senior manager, said: “Cllr Morrison has met this requirement so we’re not investigating the issue.”