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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Councillor Attendance: Who is turning up?

Updated: Jul 7

It is 7 months since I took a dive into the numbers of which Councillors are present and who is less so, with my last look at the numbers taking place in November 2023.


Let's recap where things were then, as we have had a number of changes.


The HRA had fewer Councillors, as the 3 Conservatives and 1 Labour representatives had yet to cross the floor. Labour were still in a coalition with the HRA and held some cabinet positions.


This is what attendance looked like in November 2023.

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

The disclaimer


Every time I post one of these blogs I have to reiterate this.


Yes, I know turning up to meetings isn't all a Councillor does.

No, I'm not judging anyone for their attendance.

Sure, this is all available on the Council website, but it doesn't hurt it being here.


Some councillors have been very ill.


So, on to the numbers.



Overall Attendance

The average Councillor has


  • Been expected at 39.5 meetings since the elections in May 2022 - 1.57 per month

  • Has attended 33.25 meetings (83%) - 1.33 per month


Using an average meeting length of 2 hours, I conclude that the average Councillor has been in meetings for 66.5 hours since the elections in 2022. For this they have been paid a minimum of £21,691 (pre-tax), which is roughly £326.18 per hour.


Yes, I know meetings is not all a Councillor does....



The Political Groups


To the always juicy bit. Which group has the best attendance?


So, as a start, we have a new group in this data. Cllrs Tyler and Ruck departed the HRA to form an Independent Resident's Group (IRG, not to be confused with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard). One suspects that this group won't last long and will reabsorb back into the HRA. We watch closely.


The Conservatives remain the poorest performing major party. However, the newly formed IRG stand out as having the worst attendance.

Party

Expected At

Attended

%

Avg Missed Meetings

HRA

1057

920

85%

5.48

Con

608

482

79%

7.41

Lab

348

302

87%

5.75

EHRG

98

82

82%

5.33

IRG

61

43

77%

9

Group averages

Party

Expected At

Attended

%

HRA

42.48

36.8

85%

Con

35.76

28.35

79%

Lab

43.5

37.75

87%

EHRG

32.66

27.33

82%

IRG

30.5

21.5

77%


Top Performers

Who has the best attendance?


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


Highest %

Just 3 Councillors maintain their perfect 100% attendance record, down from 5 last time. In alphabetical order they are;


Gerry O'Sullivan - HRA

Jacqueline Williams - HRA

Martin Goode - EHRG


Most attended

Taking the top 10 Councillors, they have been expected at an average of 60.4 meetings and attended an average of 54.9 (91%).


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

72

62

86%

10

Gerry O'Sullivan

HRA

59

59

100%

0

David Taylor

Cons

63

57

90%

6

Ray Morgon

HRA

61

57

93%

4

Julie Wilkes

HRA

60

56

93%

4

Laurance Garrard

HRA

66

55

83%

11

Christine Smith

HRA

59

54

92%

5

Gillian Ford

HRA

58

52

90%

6

Christopher Wilkins

HRA

53

49

92%

4

Patricia Brown

Lab

53

48

91%

5


The Cabinet

In a change from looking at the Committee Chairmen, I'm shining the spotlight on the Cabinet today. These members are, arguably, the most important in Havering as they have control over budgets and the direction of departments.


These figures are for the Cabinet Councillors during their entire term, not just their role as a Councillor. All Cabinet members are HRA. With Labour having left the coalition, some Cabinet members have changed. Labour's Keith Darvill has been replaced by the HRA's Natasha Summers. Paul McGeary left Labour and joined the HRA, retaining his Cabinet position.


As a whole the cabinet have an average attendance of 90%. They have been expected at an average of 49.55 meetings and attended 44.77.


Cabinet Members are paid an additional £25,000 for their role, on top of the basic £10,412.


There is no minimum attendance required to be in such a senior position and in receipt of an additional £25,000 a year.

Councillor

Cabinet Role

Expected At

Attended

Missed

%

Ray Morgon

Leader

61

57

4

93%

Gillian Ford

Deputy Leader / Adults and Wellbeing

58

52

6

90%

Christopher Wilkins

Finance

53

49

4

92%

Graham Williamson

Regeneration

48

46

2

96%

Paul Middleton

Digital Transformation / Customer Service

47

46

1

98%

Oscar Ford

Children & Young People

45

41

4

91%

Barry Mugglestone

Environment

41

39

2

95%

Natasha Summers

Climate Change and Housing Need

46

33

13

72%


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 £21,691 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.


Cabinet Members will have received £73,775.


Based on an average attendance of 33.25 meetings, at 2 hours per meeting (totalling 79 hours) the average Councillor is being paid £326.18 per hour. Pre-tax, basic only. This is down from £346.32 per hour in November 2023.


 

 


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, this is why I publish my full payslip and taxes, with a breakdown on my hours. You can see these at Payslips (davidtaylor.online)



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