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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Councillor Attendance

Every few months I raise the issue of Councillor attendance. Me doing so usually attracts a lot of criticism, from all sides. So, to put any concerns to bed... Conservatives must do better. We, as a group, have the worst attendance.


Being a Councillor isn't just about turning up to meetings. It's also about hard work, meeting with residents, outside of these meetings. This is where Councillors should be earning their basic allowance.


As a Havering Councillor, if I sat around doing nothing for 6 months, I'd still be paid £10,412.


This is why I like to look at attendance to meetings. It shows who is definitely working.


Councillors sign up to sit on committees. If someone is missing a lot of meetings, then it reveals that maybe they shouldn't be sitting on that committee.



Overall attendance

The average Councillor has

  • Been expected at 15.7 meetings since the elections in May 2022 - 1.57% per month

  • Has attended 13.3 meetings (83%) - 1.3 per month

I take the average meeting length as being 2 hours. On this, I conclude that the average Councillor has been in meetings for 31.4 hours since being elected.

Attendance chart of Havering's Councillors. Mine is in the red

So now to the politicky bit. How does this break down per political grouping?


Well, it's bad news for Conservatives. Having moved to having the best attendance in the last update, we're now at the worst. This is disappointing and we must do better.


As well as not attending, we're also failing to fill the committee seats allocated to us.


In order to be a strong opposition. We must turn up!



Party

Expected At

Attended

%

Missed

Lab

17.2

15.1

89%

2.1

HRA Group

15.9

14.2

87%

1.7

EHRA

14.0

11.3

77%

2.7

Cons

15.9

14.2

77%

3.3

Top Performers

Who has the best attendance?


I've broken this down into two categories. Highest %, and most attended.


Highest %

11 Councillors have maintained a record of attending all meetings they were expected at.


In alphabetical order they are;


Barry Mugglestone - HRA

Christopher Wilkins - HRA

Gerry O'Sullivan - HRA

Graham Williamson - HRA

Keith Prince - Cons

Martin Goode - EHRA

Nisha Patel - Cons

Paul Middleton - HRA

Reg Whitney - HRA

Stephanie Nunn - HRA

Trevor McKeever (Mayor) - Lab


Most attended.

Taking the top 10 Councillors, they have been expected at an average of 25.4 meetings and attended an average of 22.8 (an 89.7% average).


The high attendance % is important because there is little value in being expected at a lot of meetings if you don't turn up.



Councillor

Party

Expected At

Attended

%

Missed

Bryan Vincent

HRA

29

28

97%

1

Christine Smith

Cons

28

25

89%

3

Laurance Garrard

HRA

28

25

89%

3

David Taylor

Cons

27

26

96%

1

Gerry O'Sullivan

HRA

25

25

100%

0

Julie Wilkes

HRA

25

24

96%

1

Ray Best

Cons

24

21

88%

3

Ray Morgon (Leader)

HRA

23

20

87%

3

Mandy Anderson

Lab

23

15

65%

8

Patricia Brown

Lab

22

19

86%

3


Committee Chairmen

I've recently been highlighting how little our committees have been meeting. The Chairmen of these committees get a set allowance for the role, despite how many meetings they call.


Whilst Chairmen do work outside of the meetings, in preparation for it, some committees are hardly meeting at all. In the case of Strategic Planning, the meetings keep being cancelled due to a lack of work.


I'd like to see Chairmen paid based on the number of meetings they attend.


In the interest of transparency, the People and Places committees are both chaired by Conservatives.


Committee

Meetings Held

Allowance

Per Meeting

Strategic Planning

4

£7500

£1875

People

10

£7500

£750

Places

3

£7500

£2500

Overview & Scrutiny Board

6

£1000

£1667

Councillor's Pay

As I said at the opening, being a Councillor is about more than just turning up to meetings. But, it's the only measure we have.


Taking into consideration the basic allowance paid to Councillors, of £10,412, Councillors have been paid £8452.79 since the election (pre-tax). Some will have taken home much more, if they are in receipt of a Special Responsibility Allowance such as being a Chairmen of Cabinet Member.


Based on an average attendance of 13.3 meetings, at 2 hours per meeting, the average Councillor is being paid £317.77 per hour. Pre-tax, basic only. This is down from £353.55 per hour in December.



My Figures.

I publish my payslips each month, so you can see what I take home. Because scrutiny starts with self.


I have attended 26 meetings and earned £8452.79 before tax. Based on meetings being an average of 2 hours each, my pre-tax salary is £162.55 per hour. This is 45% of what the average Councillor is paid.


Conclusion

These figures don't tell the whole story.

We can't see who is having personal difficulties that are preventing them from attending. We can't see who is working hard outside of meetings. But, I believe it does show we have a system that is easy to abuse.


Councillors can do nothing for 4 years and still take home their pay. Chairman can call almost no meetings and still get their allowances.


The reaction to me posting this sort of information shows us another thing. The swamp is full of people who don't want to do anything about it. I find it no surprise that, whenever I point out this broken system, the first reaction from my 'political opponents' is to cry that this wasn't fixed when Conservatives were in power.


That may be so, but it's not an excuse to keep a broken system.


I'm going to spend the entirety of my term highlighting the issues we have. But, for those who you who have missed me saying it before, Conservatives must do better!


Scrutiny starts with self!

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