Saturday, 5 December 2009

Who Is Your Laziest Councillor?

#rdgnews - It's six months now since the last time I reported on the levels of enquiries each of Reading's 46 councillors make on behalf of the public, so it's about time that I followed up.

Redlands' Cllr Glenn Goodall was the first to publish the most recent list of 'Acolaid' statistics (taking the period July-October 2009).

He highlights the fact that 6 councillors failed to make any enquiries whatsoever during this period, while 21 councillors made less than 10.

By comparison the top three were Cllr Page (Labour, 67 enquiries), Cllr Benson (LibDem, 50) and Cllr Epps (LibDem, 47).

Cllr Daisy Benson is proud of the consistent effort each of the members of their LibDem team puts in and says the community feels the benefit of the hard work.

Independent Cllr Tony Jones has argued that a number of councillors are lazy and could be cut with no discernable difference in the effect to the public.

Linda Fort reports that the statistics don't tell the whole story.

She questions Mayor of Reading, Cllr Fred Pugh, who has regular public engagements and states the desciption of laziness isn't fair. However, as the representative of a single-member ward his zero enquiries may seem to be leaving residents in the lurch.

Both Cllr Pugh and Park ward's Cllr Hartley claim they bypass the system of logging enquiries because it is time consuming and as experienced councillors they have connections with the right council officers who they can go to directly to get the work done.

But Park ward Green party candidate Rob White is particularly aggravated by the lack of evidence Cllr Hartley and his Labour party colleague Cllr Merriot can show. He says the lack of evidence is proof they are both 'rubbish'!

Meanwhile Cllr Willis doesn't think the number of enquiries made by councillors is relevant - he decides instead to count the number of meetings he attended (and those he sent apologies for missing).

He also reports that the old Acolaid system of reporting on councillor enquiries has been been replaced with a more efficient system called 'Front Office'.

Earlier this year Bracknell LibDem Mark Reckons gained national attention during the expenses scandal for analysinging the statistical connection between the size of politicians' electoral majorities and their level of corruption.

His work was referenced by at the highest levels as supporting the case for political and electoral reform - could the same be said for their effectiveness?

Oranjepan says:
It's a good thing the system is changing, now there is no excuse for any councillor not to use it. It is not acceptable that public representatives subvert agreed processes - because that distorts the political debate and leads to bad decisions.


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