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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Councillor Attendance: Who is turning up?

Every so often I publish an in-depth look at councillor attendance in the Town Hall. This latest update covers attendance since the elections in May last year.


As per usual, I need to add a caveat before people get upset.


  1. I know that turning up at the Town Hall isn't all a Councillor does

  2. I know that there are legitimate reasons for missing a meeting

  3. I pass no judgement on performance, except for that of the Conservative group as a whole (Take the log out of your own eye before taking the speck out of someone else's)



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 28.3 meetings since the elections in May 2022 - 1.4 per month

  • Has attended 23.8 meetings (84%) - 1.2 per month


I take an average meeting as being 2 hours in length. On this, I conclude that the average Councillor has been in meetings for 47.6 hours since the elections in May 2022



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


The Political Groups

This is the bit you're all after, which group is performing the best?


Well, again, it's bad news for my fellow Conservatives.

Party

Expected At

Attended

%

Avg Missed Meetings

HRA

697

609

87%

3.6

Lab

285

248

87%

4.1

EHRG

72

59

82%

4.3

Con

531

419

79%

5.6

Group averages

Party

Expected At

Attended

%

HRA

29

24

87%

Lab

31.6

27.5

87%

EHRG

24

19.6

82%

Con

26.5

20.95

79%



Top Performers


Who has the best attendance?


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


Highest %

Just 5 Councillors have maintained a record of attended all the meetings that they were expected at.


In alphabetical order they are;


Gerry O'Sullivan - HRA

Jacqueline Williams - HRA

Martin Goode - EHRG

Nisha Patel - Con

Reg Whitney - HRA


Most attended.

Taking the top 10 Councillors, they have been expected at an average of 44.6 meetings and attended an average of 41.3 (a 93% 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

53

48

91%

5

David Taylor

Con

46

44

96%

2

Julie Wilkes

HRA

46

44

96%

2

Christine Smith

Con

46

43

93%

3

Gerry O'Sullivan

HRA

43

43

100%

0

Ray Morgon

HRA

45

41

91%

4

Laurance Garrard

HRA

47

40

85%

7

Gillian Ford

HRA

42

38

90

4

Chris Wilkins

HRA

38

36

95

2

Patricia Brown

Lab

40

36

90

4


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.


Committee Chairman, of course, do work outside of the meetings. However, we can only track the number of meetings held.


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


The chair of the committees can change, so these figures are taken from meetings since March 2023. The allownance is for the full 1 year and so the 'per meeting' figure doesn't take into account any meetings planned between now and March 2024.


Committee

Meetings Held

Allowance

Per Meeting

Strategic Planning

3

£7500

£2500

People

8

£7500

£937.50

Places

3

£7500

£2500

Overview & Scrutiny Board

4

£10000

£2500

I chair the Places Commitee and, outside of the meetings, I have also attended Parliament in my capacity as Chair in order to lobby for greater housing benefit payments. I give this as an example of the type of work Chairmen can do outside of the meetings themselves.



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 £16,485 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 23.8 meetings, at 2 hours per meeting, the average Councillor is being paid £346.32 per hour. Pre-tax, basic only. This is up from £317.775 per hour in March.



 

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.


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.


Scrutiny starts with self!

1 comment

1 Comment


Peter Stremes
Peter Stremes
Dec 20, 2023

I admire your commitment to publishing this information. I am not sure all your Councillor colleagues feel the same!

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