Wales

Powys councillor defends working from NZ for two months

Powys County Councillor James Evans Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Evans hopes to bring home tips from New Zealand to help Powys farmers diversify

A councillor has defended keeping his cabinet role despite spending the next two months in New Zealand.

James Evans, a Conservative member of Powys County Council, won a National Farmers' Union scholarship to study deer farming and venison production.

Some Tory colleagues believe he should give up his senior role which includes housing and public protection.

Councillor Evans said he was keeping in touch via email and Skype and accused his critics of political point-scoring.

Members of the Powys cabinet - a coalition of independents and Conservatives - receive an extra £15,700 on top of a councillor's basic salary of £13,600.

The councillor, who represents Gwernyfed, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he had the blessing of the council leader to keep his cabinet role, despite being more 11,000 miles away from Wales and 13 hours ahead.

"I am keeping up to date with all of my cabinet papers and keeping abreast with what's occurring in Powys - that's the joy of modern technology," he said.

"Members and staff can work in a flexible manner from any location which is encouraged throughout the council."

Councillor Evans claimed Conservative critics of his trip were using it to further their own political ambitions.

"Perhaps they should focus on the platform which they stood for rather than political point-scoring," he said.

"My trip to New Zealand is not a relaxing beach holiday, but I am in fact here learning about deer farming techniques, which I can relay back to the farming communities in Powys in order for them to be able to diversify and develop their businesses if they so wish."

Councillor Evans also pointed out that during the last 18 months he had not taken any time off, even when he got married last summer.

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