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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 11:42 GMT
Tory 'disappears' from council
Oxford city centre
Barbara Burgess' Oxford seat will be contested in May
The only Conservative councillor on a city council has "disappeared" leaving colleagues mystified.

Barbara Burgess has not been seen at Oxford City Council since October last year.

However, because she has not officially resigned Mrs Burgess is still entitled to claim her 3,127 annual allowance.

It is understood she has moved to Wales, from her home in the Marston area of Oxford.

It is our understanding that Mrs Burgess will return to Oxford to attend to matters

Prudence Dailey, Oxford East Conservatives
Although Mrs Burgess claims she sent a letter explaining her position, council leader Corinna Redman said she only found out what had happened earlier this month.

On Friday, Mrs Redman told BBC News Online Mrs Burgess should at least tell her constituents why they could no longer contact her.

"We haven't seen Mrs Burgess since last October's full council meeting, but I hadn't thought too much about it," said Mrs Redman.

"However, I rang her to canvass her support on a budget vote about 10 days ago, and was told she no longer lives at the address that is still on our records."

Mrs Burgess was elected in May 2000, and because she is on her own Mrs Redman said possible feelings of isolation might have influenced her decision.

"She has six months grace during which she needn't go to any meetings," continued Mrs Redman.

"After that the council is in a position to organise the election of someone else to her ward."

Allowance queried

Although Mrs Burgess' six months are up in April, it is unlikely anything will be done about the situation, because her Marston seat will be contested later this year anyway.

Oxford East Conservative Association said Mrs Burgess "advised" the city council of her plans to move out of Oxford on 10 January.

In a statement association chairman Prudence Dailey said: "It is our understanding that Mrs Burgess will return to Oxford to attend to matters," she said.

"Mrs Burgess will not be seeking re-election in the forthcoming city council elections in May.

"We would of course be totally opposed to the idea that any councillor should continue to claim allowances if he or she had ceased to act as a councillor."

Whether Mrs Burgess is still acting as a councillor needs to be clarified, added Mrs Redman.

She said: "If she can't carry out her duties, at the very least her constituents have a right to know that."

Click here to go to Oxford
See also:

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03 Oct 01 | Wales
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08 Aug 01 | UK Politics
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14 Jun 01 | UK Politics
One-vote poll win may go to court
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