Thursday 30 July 2009

Council report card

I received an email the other day with my “report card” for the end of the term. Like at school, I’m pleased to report that my attendance record was 100%. This record doesn’t tell the whole story though – my dad always told me that it’s the taking part that counts. In committees, it’s what you contribute and how you hold people to account.

Councillors Attendance at Committee meetings between 01/04/2009 and 30/06/2009

Calton Area Committee22010003:00
Finance and Audit Scrutiny Committee22010006:00
Personnel Appeals Committee33010005:40

For every one of the meetings attended, there’s a lot of preparation and rooting out of information. I would estimate that I spend at least the same amount of time preparing for a committee as I do attending it. Committee papers can be quite chunky, and the cynical among us often think they are written in a way to hide more than they show. Furthermore, we tend to receive the papers only three or four days before the meeting takes place.

All Councillors should be interrogating the papers and finding out the truth behind them; it’s particularly important that we do this as opposition Councillors. I have seen some less dedicated (?) members of the Labour group ping the rubber band off their pristine papers at the start and deposit them straight into the recycling bin at the end, but to my mind, that’s really not good enough. It’s our responsibility to ensure the decisions we make are based on the correct information.

In addition to the committees shown above, I’m a member of the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Board, a board member of the East End Healthy Living Centre, and a member of the East Glasgow Community Health and Care Partnership, all of which come with their own time commitments and paperwork!

I enjoy the challenges of the different committees, and the wide range of issues I get to deal with; this work does always come second though to the reason I’m a Councillor - representing my constituents.


joe90 kane said...

That is a ridiculously impressive report card BB.

Councils and Councillors using the internet to keep in touch with their wards seems to be catching on -
Councillors' debate to be webcast
BBC Scotland
07 Aug 2009

all the best

Anonymous said...

Yes, but what do you actually DO? What is the end product of all this paper shuffling? Is there an end product?

BellgroveBelle said...

joe90 kane - thanks. Interesting link, I think Glasgow should definitely do that.

Anonymous - it's a good point, and I'm always wary of getting sucked into a paper-shuffling vortex.

I would say that I sit on committees to ensure that the best deal is had for the people of Glasgow.

Even if I'm not happy with the final line Labour decide to take, I feel it's important to hold them to account.

The end product would be a decision to proceed with one course of action rather than another. That decision affects how money is spent, staff are deployed, and services are provided.

Taking the schools issue as an example - we opposed the closures and suggested alternatives. Labour ignored us and used their majority to proceed.

I suppose that's not how it would work in an ideal world - some sense of being consensual and coming to a better decision together would be nice - but that's the system Glasgow operates for the time being.

Hope that answers your question!

joe90 kane said...

Yes, but what do you actually DO? What is the end product of all this paper shuffling? Is there an end product?
- Try comparing the living conditions the people in the East End of Glasgow in the middle of the nineteenth century had to put up with - with their living conditions today.

That's what councils do and are responsible for - making sure the majority of the population aren't forced to live ('exist' might be a more apt term) in Victorian-type hell-holes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply, Alison.

I think some politicians, through no fault of their own, get caught up in the endless bustle of meetings and confuse it for productivity. It's important to remember that the meeting itself is not the achievement but what is discussed and subsequently implemented.

I'm sure you know that anyway. :)