Councillors are volunteers. They present themselves for election and take on responsibilities on behalf of the people who live in their ward or division. They have a duty to attend meetings which, in South Kesteven, usually take place in Grantham.
I have compiled a spreadsheet summarising the attendance records of all SKDC Councillors elected since May 2015 and posted it as a page on this website. There should be a tab near the top of the page marked SKDC Attendance.
An overall average attendance of 80% is not bad considering the distance some of us have to travel. From the Deepings it takes the best part of an hour to get to Grantham and the same again to get home again. The spreadsheet takes no account of how long each meeting lasts. They might be just 45 minutes or they might drag on for 8 hours (as was the case with a planning meeting earlier this year).
Most SKDC Councillors are retired, some are self-employed and some have full-time jobs and have to negotiate with their employers in order to attend the scheduled meetings which nearly all take place on weekdays mornings or afternoons.
District Councillors are paid allowances supposedly to the responsibilities they take on, e.g. the Leader receives an allowance of nearly £19,000pa (recently increased from £15,000) as the role is so demanding and time-consuming. The Deputy Leader receives £15,000pa (recently risen from £10,000). The Cabinet Members get a bit less and so on down to the backbenchers who received an annual basic allowance of £5,407pa (recently increased from £4,641pa). The argument for the increased allowances was that since the coup d’etat last year SKDC has become a ‘Member-led’ authority with Councillors taking the important decisions rather than leaving the Officers to get on with their jobs.
Part of the winning strategy for the coup d’etat was to increase the number of cabinet members and the number of committees. As each committee has a Chair and a Vice-Chair with a ‘special responsibility allowarnce’ the number of people entitled to more than just the basic allowance increased. The increase in allowances and the increase in special responsibility claims explains why the annual cost of members allowances has increased to almost £1/2m pa.
Have a look at the spreadsheet and see for yourself whether the Councillor(s) for your ward are diligent in their attendance.
I hope to publish similar statistics for attendance at Market Deeping Town Council in the not-too-distant future although there are no allowances for the time-consuming role of a Town or Parish Councillor, only out-of-pocket expenses (which are very rare).