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I feel sorry for Chris Basson, says Labour opponent

PUBLISHED: 07:12 21 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 September 2010

Katie Davies & Ben McPartland THE Liberal Democrat party has come under fire Chris Basson s resignation. Belsize councillor and Cambridge graduate Mr Basson has been mostly absent from his £9,500-a-year council role since 2006, and now people are question

Katie Davies & Ben McPartland

THE Liberal Democrat party has come under fire Chris Basson's resignation.

Belsize councillor and Cambridge graduate Mr Basson has been mostly absent from his £9,500-a-year council role since 2006, and now people are questioning whether he was forced to stay simply to protect the party from a by-election defeat at a potential risk to his own health.

Labour councillor Jonathan Simpson said: "They broke their duty of care.

"Some people think being a councillor is about eating cucumber sandwiches, but people often only go to a politician when they are desperate. You have to deal with a whole range of issues and provide emotional support, it can be very stressful as well as rewarding.

"I feel sorry for Chris. If the Lib Dems were really concerned they wouldn't have thought about a political majority above their colleague and friend's health."

Conservative councillor and deputy council leader Andrew Marshall said: "I think we reached the point where he needed to step down some time ago.

"I am disappointed that he didn't resign before and the question is how they allowed him to stay."

Concerns about Mr Basson's non-attendance at meetings were raised by the Ham&High in October.

At the time, Lib Dem leader Keith Moffitt said the councillor had "some health problems" and they were discussing his future but he would not be standing down.

It has now emerged Mr Basson's problems were so bad he was on permanent sick leave from his job as a computer consultant - a fact known by the party, but one which didn't alter its decision about him staying on the council.

Some residents feel aggrieved he was able to earn money as a councillor despite doing less and less work for the community.

Secretary of the Primrose Gardens Community Association in the Belsize ward, Helen Lambert, said: "It is interesting that despite how ill he was, it did not stop him claiming his salary. It is an extraordinary thing for him not to have resigned earlier."

Council and Liberal Democrat lead-er Keith Moffitt said: "Although we were unaware of his mental health pro-blems when he was elected, we feel very strongly that a history of mental illness in itself should not prevent anyone from seeking or holding elected office.

"Unfortunately, Chris's mental health has deteriorated since he was first elected in 2006. His ward colleagues and the Liberal Democrat group have done their best to support Chris during that time but it became increasingly clear that Chris was not, in the foreseeable future, going to make a sufficient recovery to enable him to carry out his duties as a councillor effectively."

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