Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Who'd be a local councillor...?

Ever thought of standing for election to our local council?

With both parish and district elections looming in May, South Kesteven District Council is offering open evenings for anyone thinking of standing.

SKDC is holding prospective councillors’ evenings on Monday 19 February, 6pm, at the council chambers in Grantham and on Tuesday 20 February, 6pm, at Stamford Arts Centre.

Sessions will cover how to get nominated, how decisions are made by the council, the role of councillors, time needed to be a councillor, and how it could affect your life, rules, codes of conduct and legal responsibilities.

I believe the evenings on offer are a good idea. I hope they result in more young people - and more women - standing for election.

In the interests of democracy, it's important that our local councils become more reflective of the communities they seek to represent.

9 comments:

Snedds said...

Perhaps it is my political geekery, but I'd love to stand as a candidate, and had I not escaped South Holland for Sheffield to continue my education I'm sure my name would have been on a nomination form somewhere nearby.

Sadly the transience of being a student, especially on a one-years masters means it is unwise to do anything like commiting myself to 4 years of being anywhere

HenryG said...

Councillor allowances are often far too low to compensate for the considerable amount of time the duties take per week. Of course we don't want people motivated by public service and not money, but at the same time they shouldn't be out of pocket. The variation in council allowances in different areas is quite significant.

The young councillors I've come in the last couple of years are grappling with paying off their tuition fees and trying to get on to the housing ladder. Employers are far less sympathetic than they used to be. Being a councillor is a huge privilege but for many under 30 it means choosing between being a councillor and developing careers and livelihoods.

I think we need to look at this issue again. What do you think Phil?

HenryG said...

Sorry that should read we DO want people motivated by public service.

Brynley said...

The problem is real enough.

But the answer is nothing to do with allowances, which are quite reasonable.

In South Kesteven (as in some other areas) the councillors are cyphers. When was the last time they took an initiative and imposed it on the council's professionals? This is not entirely their own fault. Much of the decision making has lost local content. Initiatives, good and bad, are transmitted from London like 'Heat and Eat' meals, with nothing to do, but nod them through. No discretion. No real debate.

The other problem has been the inappropriate use of the Standards Board for England to stifle originality, curb dissent and frighten anybody who wanted to think for themselves.

Those are the real problems.

fairdealphil said...

snedds:

good you haven't forgotten where you come from...

in my student days, only 2 per cent went to uni, and that didn't include an 11-plus failure like me (as you can no doubt tell...!)

you do of course highlight a real problem - it's not just a four year commitment of being in one place, but also i would not imagine that doing a one year masters would leave time to be an elected councillor...

best stick with it...!

Anonymous said...

im standing somewhere in lincoln and its top secret.

Samantha said...

I do hope we get some good candidates for the Parish Council in DSJ this year. So many of ours are standing down and they've done a really good job over the last 8 - 12 years. You wouldn't recognise the council compared with what it used to be like. They actually do things now - like the bus shelters, the skatepark, litter bins, a PCSO and all sorts of things. Even little things like planting daffodils at the roadside.

I love elections, don't you?

fairdealphil said...

Samantha:

you're right about how the parish council has changed over the past decade.

when i was first elected, i was told off for sitting in someone else's seat!

the clerk used foolscap with carbon to produce the minutes on an Imperial 66 typewriter left over from the War.

when i proposed that we spend £1,000 to get a word processor to get out of the stone age, i was defeated as a radical!

how times change...

get your nominations forms in!

LouiseB31 said...

Becoming a councillor was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I am now angling to work out how I can go part-time at work so that I can be even more effective.

I can do 20 hours a week whilst still working full-time, but think how much more I could do as a Councillor if I went part-time!

I adore representing people and helping solve their problems, especially as I represent a ward which is nearly the poorest in the country and really needs active representation.

Go for it Lincolnshire