Devon

Cullompton tea dance councillor to step down

people dancing Image copyright Karl Busch
Image caption Cullompton North councillor Karl Busch will stand down at the next local elections

A district councillor who spends half his week in Jersey running tea dances is to step down.

Karl Busch has missed about 75% of Mid Devon council meetings over the past 18 months, council records show.

Fellow ward councillor Nikki Woollatt said she has been overwhelmed with casework because of his absence.

Mr Busch defended his record and insisted he was "proud of the work that he was achieving."

Nikki Woollatt said: "I kind of feel that the council taxpayer has been subsidising him while he pursues other projects.

"He's drawing an allowance, but not putting in the effort."

Council records show Mr Busch, 54, has met the minimum legal requirement of attending at least one meeting every six months, but admitted he has let his council duties slip.

The Cullompton North councillor will stand down at the next local elections in May.

Image caption Mr Busch admits his tea dance project is the main reason he has missed about 75% of council meetings

For the last 18 months he has spent half his time in Jersey, he said.

He runs weekly tea dances on the Channel Island with the aim of getting people aged over 50 more socially and physically active.

The rest of the time, he lives in Mid Devon, where he has been working on expanding his project and has recently started running similar events locally.

His website says the social inclusion project is a "non for profit club".

Mr Busch received allowances of more than £8,600, for the year up to March 2018, but he believes people in his ward are getting value for money.

"I know it's taxpayers' money. Should it be used for that purpose? Absolutely, it should be," he said.

"The work I'm doing directly benefits Mid Devon and my legacy is that my ward will benefit from my work for years to come."

"I will not be standing again in the next election, but I'm proud of the work that I'm achieving."

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