Local councillor criticised after it’s discovered he’s been living in France

A MIDDLESBROUGH councillor who is living in France has received backing after a councillor lodged a complaint about him living abroad.

Independent Cllr for North Ormesby Ashley Waters has been living in France for the past couple of weeks after he bought a property there to renovate into a bed and breakfast.

This comes after a council leader came under fire after issuing a ‘stay local’ warning to constituents, while on holiday thousands of miles away in the Maldives.

READ MORE: Richmondshire council boss issues ‘stay home’ Covid warning from holiday in Maldives

Independent Cllr for Longlands and Beechwood, Joan McTigue, lodged the complaint against Cllr Waters arguing that he could not look after his ward if he did not live in the country.

She said: “I have family living in North Ormesby, she pays full council tax, I object strongly to her paying full council tax when he’s living in France.”

Council rules state that there is only a requirement to live in Middlesbrough at the point of standing for election. As long as the councillor is attending meetings and undertaking his role, due to the pandemic, this includes remotely.

Due to the third lockdown Cllr Waters now has to remain in France.

He said: “If I wasn’t fulfilling my role I would step down. I’ve been back and forward to France five or six times last year. All I want to do is do the right thing for Middlesbrough. I am doing my job, I’ve got 100 per cent attendance in all meetings.”

Mayor of Middlesbrough Andy Preston, said: “First and foremost, Ashley is an excellent councillor and definitely one of the hardest working councillors on Teesside. In a short space of time since being elected, he has made a really positive difference in North Ormesby, which is why he’s so popular with many residents there.

“Right now he’s stuck in France after getting some admin done on a potential holiday home he’s hoping to renovate out there. He’s stuck there at present but he has always attended every meeting that’s asked of him and continues to hold numerous one-on-one online meetings. In terms of his role on my executive, Ashley’s played an important role in new homes being built in central Middlesbrough, which help to transform our town for the better.

“Ultimately, I’d rather have Ashley working as a councillor in France than other councillors sitting in their Middlesbrough living rooms watching Coronation Street.”

Cllr David Coupe, Middlesbrough Conservative group leader, said: “He’s not doing anything wrong. Normally you would think he can’t do his job but as we’re all locked down, technically he can do his job.”

The Northern Echo | Teesside