Councillor vows to carry on - from USA
A COUNCILLOR has secretly moved 5,500 miles to Arizona - but is still representing his stunned constituents.There was fury as it emerged that Philip Thompson, 26, had gone to the Wild West state in the USA to study a PhD in American Politics.
A COUNCILLOR has secretly moved 5,500 miles to Arizona - but is still representing his stunned constituents.
There was fury as it emerged that Philip Thompson, 26, had gone to the Wild West state in the USA to study a PhD in American Politics.
The Lib Dem councillor for Kentish Town in London has kept his position on Camden Council and is still pocketing his £700 monthly allowance.
Mr Thompson moved to Tucson last month without telling his constituents - or some of his political colleagues.
But the bizarre move is being supported by his party and council leader, Keith Moffit.
Mr Thompson, one of Camden's youngest councillors, said he was delighted to do the course - which could take up to three years.
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Speaking from Tucson, Philip said from the University of Arizona: “I never expected to have the opportunity to come here but it was an opportunity too difficult to pass up.
“There is no reduced service for people in Kentish Town, I have carried on with all my casework.
“It is not a thing to cling onto for the sake of it, I enjoy being a councillor and I will not continue to do it if it is impossible."
He stressed: "I will be talking to my colleagues in Kentish Town and Keith as well as the people of Kentish Town who will be part of my decision.
“I am fully aware of the world-class universities in Camden but unfortunately this is my specialism, so for me, it is the best place to study it.”
Mr Moffitt said he was monitoring and discussing the situation but legally there was no reason for him to stand down.
He said: “If he feels he can't do his role as councillor justice from there, I am sure that he will decide not to.
“He is a backbencher, not a member of the executive and he can do a lot of community casework by email.
"Modern technology means we are just living very differently to how we did 10 or 20 years ago.”
Mr Thompson gave up the lease on his Fortess Road home and his smiling photo has been put on The University of Arizona website where he is studying.
But residents in rain-soaked Kentish Town are not as upbeat as their globe-trotting representative, who is living eight hours behind them.
Chairman of Kentish Town Traders' Association, Nick Mavrides, said: “You need to be in the borough day in and day out - not emailing from half way across the globe.
“We have got problems like knife crime here, which is only solved by as many eyes and ears looking out for the community as possible.
"He either has to get back or get out.”
Mr Thompson's monthly surgeries, which allow residents to share their problems, are now being taken over by his two ward colleagues.
He is now obviously unavailable for site visits, community meetings and public events. Other duties, such as his work as governor on Kentish Town Primary School, will also be in doubt.
The only legal requirement for a councillor is that he attends at least one full council meeting every six months.
Residents who voted for Mr Thompson in 2006 were shell-shocked.
Pat Gibson, secretary of Highgate Road Residents' Group, said: “He can't do two things which are so intense at the same time, there has got to be a by-election. I am sorry to see him go because he has been very helpful on several things here.”