Political news

UUP defends Ards and North Down councillor commuting to London as part of job

Ulster Unionist councillor Carl McClean
Brendan Hughes

THE Ulster Unionist Party last night defended the employment arrangements of a councillor who commutes to London as part of his job.

It comes after another councillor who faced criticism for working in Dublin announced he will step down from his elected role.

The UUP had earlier this week declined to answer questions over Antrim and Newtownabbey representative Ben Kelso working for Barclays bank in Dublin.

Mr Kelso rejected concerns that he was not properly fulfilling his elected role because of his work commitments.

"I'm in Belfast equally as much as I'm in Dublin," he told The Irish News.

But in a statement yesterday, Mr Kelso said he had been planning to stand down from the council to "focus on growing responsibilities outside of politics".

It has since emerged that a second councillor, Ards and North Down representative Carl McClean, commutes to London as part of his job, though the party said he also works from home.

Mr McClean has worked at London-based firm AIRINC for the past year, according to his LinkedIn page online.

However, Mr McClean has attended most of the monthly council meetings this year.

Councillors receive a basic annual pay of around £14,300.

Mr McClean's home was listed with the Electoral Office as an address in Bangor when he stood for election in 2014.

The Ulster Unionist Party said last night that "Carl McClean`s home is in Ards and North Down and he is a ratepayer there".

"He has a job which currently involves commuting to London to fulfil work commitments, though he also works from home. He is in Bangor for council meetings on Wednesdays, and other events.

"Carl's record of attendance at council meetings can be viewed publicly on the Ards and North Down website which compares favourably with others. Carl's family and fiancée live in Northern Ireland too.

"We have not received any complaints about Carl's commitment and dedication to his role as a councillor."

The UUP also suggested that similar focus should be put on other political parties.

Concerns about Mr Kelso's arrangements arose in recent weeks after another councillor, John Scott, dramatically resigned from the UUP over the issue during a council meeting.

Mr Kelso has now said he will stand down from the council next month.

"I informed my group leader earlier this year of my intention to stand down from my elected role, in order to focus on growing responsibilities outside of politics," he said.

"I will continue in my role until the party has completed its internal processes to appoint my successor."

Mr Kelso, whose home was listed with the Electoral Office as an address in Jordanstown when he stood for election, has attended four of the eight monthly council meetings since the beginning of the year.

Mark Cosgrove, the UUP's council group leader, said he has "always been a dedicated member of the Ulster Unionist team".

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