Councillor blasted for spending time 65 miles away from ward campaigning to become an MP

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor has come under fire for spending weekends campaigning to become an MP more than 65 miles away from her ward.

Helena Dollimore has been a Labour councillor for the St Helier ward in Morden since a by-election in 2021, and was re-elected in May’s 2022 local elections.

All Merton councillors receive basic allowances of £8,694.

Helena Dollimore is a Merton councillor for St Helier ward (Picture: Merton council)

Councillor Dollimore was selected as the Labour candidate for Hastings and Rye in July this year. This means she will stand in the next general election, expected to take place in 2024.

Since her selection, the candidate has been campaigning from the constituency where she grew up.

Tweets throughout August show she was in Hastings nearly every weekend and included an appearance on ITV News at a protest against sewage in the sea.

She defended her position saying she is a hard-working councillor with a 100 per cent attendance record.

But the leader of the Merton Liberal Democrats, Anthony Fairclough, said: “I have no problem with anybody having ambition but she is doing a lot of work campaigning there.

“She has been talking about being a local person with local roots who wants to stand up for the area.

“I think the people in Morden deserve the same thing, someone who is in the area. Perhaps it would be a good reason to step aside and let someone who wants to be a councillor in Morden have a chance.

“I am sure she will be spending a lot more time in the constituency, in which case she isn’t going to be spending a lot of time here in Merton. It makes absolutely no sense to me.”

The leader of the local Conservative group, however, said it was up to the politician to decide whether she can be an effective councillor.

Cllr Nick McClean said: “It’s for Cllr Dollimore to decide whether she is able to represent the residents of St Helier ward to the level required to be an effective councillor.

“If she is unable to fulfil her commitment then it is right that she should step down.”

Some locals have taken to social media about the news and Julie Gould said: “[She] clearly wants to be a Labour MP but has to go through the ‘boring’ process of being a local councillor first. Not very fair on constituents, though.”

While another, Matthew Marks, simply tweeted: “Missing in action”

Cllr Dollimore said: “I have a duty to residents to serve out the term they have elected me for – as reflected by my 100 per cent attendance record – and I continue to support residents on a range of matters.

“I’m proud of being a hard-working councillor, securing agreement for a lower speed limit in St Helier Avenue, and I’m also very proud to have been selected to be Labour’s candidate for the area where I was brought up, so I can deliver for residents in Hastings and Rye just as I have done in St Helier.”

Pictured top: Helena Dollimore at a Merton council meeting in July (Picture: Merton council)

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