I’m really rather surprised at the response I got to my post on council surgeries.
There are a few comments on the blog, I’ve had a few emails and the South London Press called to chat about it for a story (which makes me nervous, because I know this can be portrayed negatively). I’ve even had a councillor from another borough (not even London) send me a message saying I was absolutely right – but they couldn’t say so publicly!
What I’ve not had yet it is anyone saying I’m wrong. And that surprises me. While I’m clearly of the opinion that we can do better, I expected some people would say they are important and should be retained as they are (and they might still say that).
I’m really pleased that it’s started a discussion about what we want to do and how we can best do it. And I’m really pleased that it hasn’t turned negative. Quite frankly, if we have the debate and it’s decided that spending an hour on my own in the library is the best way to serve people, I’ll happily do it. I just think councillors can probably do a lot more good with that hour in other places and in other ways.
And to illustrate this, I’d like to share a quote from a parish council newsletter I was sent. The newsletter is a couple of years old, but illustrates the point that we often find ourselves doing things not because they do any good, but because we feel – or someone tells us – we should.
We’ve been running bi-monthly Councillors’ surgeries on Saturday mornings for a year now, and yet we’ve only had one visitor … Some might say surgeries are a waste of time, but the thing is that we’ve got to run them as part of a package of measures necessary to get us Quality Accreditation next year.