Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 14:11 UK

London councillor in US resigns

Philip Thompson
Mr Thompson represented Camden's Kentish Town ward for two years

A north London councillor has resigned - after it emerged he had moved 5,200 miles away to Arizona.

Philip Thompson, 26, received his Camden Council allowance despite moving to the US to study American Politics.

He quit as Liberal Democrat councillor on Friday. A Lib Dem spokesman said Mr Thompson had been testing whether he could carry on his Town Hall work.

Tory councillor Andrew Marshall said: "You cannot represent people in London and do a three-year course abroad."

Mr Thompson was elected to represent Camden's Kentish Town ward in 2006.

Two weeks ago he began a course at the University of Arizona but continued to receive his council allowance, which totals 700 a month.

Lib Dem councillor Russell Eagling said Mr Thompson tested whether it would be possible to continue working as a north London councillor while in the US.

"Philip spent the start of the course deciding whether he could continue with his council casework while undertaking a PhD," Mr Eagling said.

One of the problems with younger people is that their lives are less settled
Russell Eagling, Liberal Democrat council leader

"He decided this would not be possible."

Mr Eagling said the party would not have supported Mr Thompson if he had decided to continue working as a councillor while in the US.

"Philip has an excellent record as a councillor, and it has been great to have a healthy age range within the council," Mr Eagling said.

"But one of the problems with younger people is that their lives are less settled."

Councillors must attend a minimum of one meeting every six months to remain in post.

Mr Thompson was unavailable for comment.

'Urgent issues'

Mr Marshall, leader of the council's Conservatives, said Mr Thompson's resignation was necessary.

"To do their job properly councillors need to attend a number of meetings and public events, and to regularly meet their constituents," Mr Marshall said.

The workload reflects the fact that councillors may also have full-time jobs, he added, and includes flexibility to take time off to have children, for example.

"But Camden is a very mixed, busy borough with a number of urgent issues - including housing, redevelopment and crime.

"Any councillor who wants to leave the country for a length of time would have to resign."

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