Absent Leicester city councillor 'will pay back allowances'
A councillor has said he will pay back more than £3,500 in allowances after only attending one meeting in four months – if that is what his party group wants.
Labour city councillors called on Iqbal Desai to pay back the money he received while absent from his post.
The Stoneygate ward councillor was asked to resign from the party last month after he was called in by group officers to discuss a series of absences.
During that time, Coun Desai was collecting more than £900 a month in allowances.
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Former council and Labour group leader Ross Wilmott has urged Coun Desai to "do the honourable thing".
He said: "As members of the Labour Party and councillors, there's an obligation for us to do the right thing.
"If he hasn't got a legitimate reason, I believe the honourable thing for him to do is repay the money, or at least part of it."
Coun Wilmott's sentiments were mirrored by the only Liberal Democrat councillor, Nigel Porter.
He said: "Speaking as someone from outside the party, I think I would have to agree and suggest that Councillor Desai does the right thing.
"I can understand why people would be peeved at the situation.
"If you're getting paid public money and not doing your job, I think maybe you should think about paying it back or donating it to charity."
A freedom of information request found that Coun Desai had received £3,678 during the four months he was absent.
The money included the standard allowances paid to all councillors – £819.08 per month basic and £100.42 per month for travel/subsistence within the city.
He was due to meet Labour group officers today to discuss his situation.
Coun Desai said: "If the Labour group puts in a request for me to pay the money back, I will gladly do that.
"I was asked to resign after I was away for four months. The reason I was away is personal.
"I didn't claim any expenses in that time and the meeting is to clear the air between myself and the Labour group."
Group chairman Patrick Kitterick said any discussion about the repayment of money would have to wait until after the meeting.
He said: "At the moment, Coun Desai has asked for a meeting with the Labour group officers with regard to his membership.
"We'll discuss his position and the issues surrounding his attendance, but it wouldn't be fair to comment on the situation until after the meeting."
New Parks ward councillor Dawn Alfonso said: "Just because he hasn't been at the meetings, doesn't necessarily mean he's not been putting in the work.
"You can't judge it just on that basis, there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes which councillors don't record, such as patch walks."