Friday, 12 March 2010

The Casework Competition

The latest revised Acolaid statistics have been released - revealing how hard your local councillor works for you.

Details here covering the period July 2009 to February 2010.

The subject of reporting councillor statistics has been a regular source of controversy (see here for a round-up), while the matter was recently used to heap further embarrassment on under-fire Cllr John Hartley (Labour, Park ward) by opponents.

Topping the list of active representatives was Labour's deputy leader Cllr Tony Page (Abbey ward) with 167 recorded casework enquiries.

LibDems Cllr Daisy Benson (Redlands) and Cllr Gareth Epps (Katesgrove) followed in second and third with 128 and 116 respectively, while Labour's Mike Orton (Whitley) was the only other councillor to score over 100 pieces of work.

Meanwhile 15 of Reading's 46 councillors recorded less than a tenth of that number in the same 10 month period. In this hall of shame were (in alphabetical order):

Terry Byrne (Con), Minster, 3
Jon Hartley (Lab), Park, 4
Greame Hoskin (Lab), Norcot, 7
Azam Janjua (Con), Church, 1
Peter Jones (Lab), Norcot, 5
Dave Luckett (Con), Caversham, 10
Chris Maskell (Lab), Battle, 7
Shirley Merriot (Lab), Park, 2
Fred Pugh (Con), Mapledurham, 5
Mary Singleton-White (Lab), Whitley, 8
Jeanette Skeats (Con), Thames, 4
Richard Stainthorp (Lab), Katesgrove, 5
David Stevens (Con), Thames, 1
Mike Townend (Con), Church, 10
Debbie Watson (Lab), Minster, 4

LibDems complete about double the amount of casework per councillor than Labour members, and treble that of Conservatives.

Redlands ward has the most active councillors, with 246 Acolaids between Cllr Benson and her two LibDem colleagues, Cllrs Bayes and Goodall.

This compares to those at the at the bottom of the list:

Park Ward (2 Labour, 1 Conservative): 32
Minster Ward (2 Labour, 1 Conservative): 36
Thames ward (3 Conservatives): 38
Church ward (3 Conservatives): 50

Another interesting feature of the report are the differences between ward colleagues. In a number of cases it is noticable that one councillor has a far larger share of the casework than others.

This tendency is highly marked in Abbey Ward, where full-time councillor Tony Page combines his deputy leadership duties with an active presence in the community responding to 176 enquiries, while his colleague Mohammed Ayub undertook only 16 enquiries in the same 10 month period and Bet Tickner recorded 33.

In leafy Thames ward it appears a strict division of duties has been agreed, with David Stephens focussing almost exclusively on policy work, former mayor Jeanette Skeats prefering the social life afforded by committee work and Isobel Ballsdon clearly enjoying her role as a community activist with 33 of the 38 pieces of casework.

But the biggest disparity in workloads is in deprived Whitley ward where Mike Orton's 106 Acolaids far outstripped the combined sum of Jim Hanley's 15 and Mary Singleton-White's 8 casework totals.

Rob White takes aim at 'lazy' councillors, as he claims to have completed 'over 150' pieces of casework as a prospective candidate this year alone - in what sounds suspiciously like a commitment to maintain this level of activity were he to become the first Green party councillor.

He also calls on his opponents to hand back their £8,385 allowances if they don't do their jobs (although Cllr Hartley also collects over £4,000 Special Responsibility Allowance as Lead Councillor for Education).

Cllr Glenn Goodall provides an in-depth analysis of the stats. He is particularly pleased that the statistics rebutt any inaccurate or malicious claims made for partisan reasons.

He also notes that the Park ward Labour candidates previously mocked opponent Cllr Wazir Hussain for not holding surgeries, yet now he has reported 26 enquiries in 10 months compared to 6 between Cllrs Hartley and Merriot in the same period!

Oranjepan asks:
A number of the 'lazy' councillors identified above are either standing down or likely to be unseated at the next round of local elections, how can they be incentivised not to give up as soon as they see the writing on the wall?

If you have a problem your local councillors are here to help you - why not contact them directly or pop along to one of their public surgeries?


More on 'Who is your hardest working councillor?'

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