Updated: Jan 7
Councillors are elected to represent residents to the council and the council to their residents. With that in mind, their attendance records are made public and they can be held accountable for whether they are turning up or not.
Not all councillors are required to the same number of meetings. Some will only attend what is known as 'Full Council', which is when all Councillors are expected in the chamber and the biggest debates take place. The other meetings are made up of the various committees. So, the more committees a councillor sits on then then more they are expected at.
You'll find that most councillors will sit on maybe 1 or two committees, depending on their interests.
The average councillor:
Has been expected at 11.4 meetings since the elections in May. 1.6 per month
Has attended 9.5 meetings (82%). 1.3 a month
Meetings vary in length. Some are as long as 3 hours and some just 1 and a bit. I work on an average of these meetings being 2 hours. On that basis the average councillor has been in the chamber for 19 hours since being elected in May.
So how does attendance break down for each group?
Conservatives have gone from having the worst attendance, when I did the figures October, to having the best. Which is really encouraging as I know my colleagues and I have made a real effort to step up in this area.
All of my colleagues were councillors in the last administration, with some holding senior posts. It's likely that losing this has meant it took some a few months to 'get life back in order'. It looks like they now have and we're beginning to show the signs of being a strong opposition.
Who, of all Havering's councillors, has the best attendance record?
I've broken this down in to two categories, highest %, and most attended.
12 Councillors have a 100% attendance record. On average, they have been expected at 10 meetings and attended all.
In no particular order, they are;
Trevor McKeever - Lab
Stephanie Nunn - HRA
Nisha Patel - Cons
Jacqueline McArdle - HRA
Barry Mugglestone - HRA
Keith Prince - Cons
Paul Middleton - HRA
Martin Goode - EHRA
Reg Whitney - HRA
Graham Williamson - HRA
Gerry O'Sullivan - HRA
Christopher Wilkins - HRA
Taking the top 10 councillors, they have been expected at an average of 17.7 meetings and attended 16.4. An average of 93%.
This high attendance % is important because there is little value in a councillor being expected at a lot of meetings and not turning up. Or turning up to loads, but also missing a lot.
Councillors do a lot more than just turn up to the Town Hall. But that's the main figure we can examine when it comes to what councillors are taking home. For the below, I am only considering basic pay and not the extra pay for being Leader or cabinet member etc.
Each Councillor is on a basic salary (called an allowance) of £10,412 per year. We are all going to be taxed differently, depending on other jobs etc. So I am going to take the pre-tax figure.
Since the elections in May, councillors have been paid a gross of £6717.45 each. We get paid regardless of whether we turn up.
On an average of 19 hours in the chamber, this equates to councillors earning £353.55 per hour. Pre-tax.
I publish my pay-slips each month, so that you can see what I take home. It's important that councillors earn what they are paid for and that the public know.
I have attended 19 meetings, having been expected at 20. If I take my figure of 2hrs per meeting and only count the salary for meetings, then my pre-tax salary is £176.77 per hour. This is about 49% of what the average councillor is earning.
It's important to remember that being a councillor is about a lot more than just turning up to meetings. Some may turn up and do nothing, others may rarely be there but be highly effective at their role. We all have varied levels of casework, attended homes and events outside of the chamber, and many are hard at work in their wards, unnoticed.
A £per hour figure only tells a fraction of the story. But, I want to give people the ability to ask questions. Of myself and others.