A Birmingham city councillor is at the centre of a storm because he is standing for re-election in Stockland Green even though he now lives 15 miles away near Wolverhampton.
Conservatives accused Labour’s Mick Finnegan of having “contempt” for local people and claimed that he will find it impossible to represent his ward properly from his new home.
Coun Finnegan used to live in Reservoir Road, Stockland Green, until a few months ago when he moved to Tobruk Walk, Willenhall.
Ash Kayani, the Conservative candidate for Stockland Green at next month’s city council elections, said: “As a local resident, I am here all year round and able to help residents at a drop of a hat when they need it.
“At the very least a Birmingham councillor should pay council tax in Birmingham. Coun Finnegan doesn’t, and yet he refused to back the freeze in council tax brought in for this year.
“It seems he’d be quite happy to council tax to go up in Birmingham, as long as he doesn’t have to pay it.”
Stockland Green Conservative councillor Matt Bennett described Mr Kayani as a local candidate “who really cares about the area” and had been active in campaigning against a 24-hour off licence and phone masts.
But the attack appeared to backfire when Coun Finnegan pointed out that Conservative council leader Mike Whitby also does not pay council tax in Birmingham because he lives in Warley Woods, while the Tory candidate for Washwood Heath, Douglas Pullen, lives in Stonnall, Staffordshire.
Coun Finnegan added: “Yes, I live in Willenhall but it’s little more than a 15 minute drive away from Stockland Green and I turn up to everything.
“Councillor Bennett lives in Edgbaston and it probably takes him as long, if not longer, to drive to Stockland Green from south Birmingham
“I’ve been out an about raising petitions and knocking on doors, but I rarely see Mr Kayani unless there is an election in the offing.”
It’s the second time Stockland Green has been hit by a row over a councillor who does not live in the ward.
Between 2005 and 2007, Labour’s Margaret Wells represented the ward even though she had moved to Northumberland.