in Personal, Wandsworth

Room 123, Wandsworth Town Hall

Days of my life have been wasted spent productively in Room 123

I was thinking about the Shaftesbury Ward report back next week, and specifically the leaflet containing facts and figures about the ward and the area. One thing it doesn’t contain is any real information about the councillors. However, I do publish some information already on my open data page so I spent an idle few minutes assessing my meeting attendance.

I will caveat this post: I don’t think meeting attendance is a very good measure of the quality or otherwise of a councillor. Frankly, what they do outside the formal meetings can be a lot more meaningful to the day-to-day lives of residents. And while it’s easily measurable, it’s binary; you were either at a meeting or you weren’t, it says nothing of the contribution you made.

The following relate to the 2010-2011 municipal year, and basically include all the meetings that run from the 2010 annual council meeting up to the 2011 annual council meeting. It details ‘public’ meetings, those that are formally minuted and feature on the council website, and those I attend as a council nominee.

Overall performance
Of the 60 meetings I listed I managed to attend 49, an overall rate of 82%. I could argue that was pretty good, but then I’d be a little hypocritical given what I’ve said about meetings not being a good measure of a councillor!

What might be a little more revealing is why I missed 18% of meetings.

Reasons for missing meetings

I got the year off to a great start. I missed the annual council meeting on 19 May 2010 because I was working out of London.
I missed a Shaftesbury Park full governors on 1 June 2010 because of a clash with another meeting.
I was on a family holiday rather than attending the Executive meeting on 21 June 2010.
I didn’t record any reason for missing the Executive meeting on 2 July 2010. It was a special meeting at 8am for a single, education related, matter and I suspect I was just unavailable.
Another diary clash kept me from a Shaftesbury Park full governors on 13 October 2010.
My daughter was born on 22 November 2010. Oddly enough I felt this was enough of an excuse to miss that evening’s Executive meeting.
I then missed the next Executive meeting, this time because of travel delays. Executive meetings tend to be formalities and over in a few minutes, so it doesn’t take much of a delay to miss one.
I missed the 20 January 2011 Local Strategic Partnership meeting because I was working out of London.
I was at another meeting and not the Wandsworth Police Consultative Committee on 8 February 2011.
I missed another Shaftesbury Park school governors on 9 February because it clashed with another meeting.
And I missed another Wandsworth Police Consultative Committee on 4 April because it clashed with another meeting.

Attendance rates by meeting
Maybe a little more interesting (and I use that as a relative term) is how much that 82% attendance rate fluctuated between various meetings.

Generally a good picture. But the percentages aren’t everything. I may have attended every meeting of the Nine Elms Opportunity Board, but there was only one during the year so that’s hardly a display of doughty dedication to public service.

The one that worries me most is that I missed every full governing body meeting at Shaftesbury Park school (I haven’t recorded the sub-committee meetings, which I have been better at attending). For all three meetings there was a diary clash, so while I can point to a legitimate reason for missing them, I accept I chose which meeting to attend.

Looking at the three I can see why I made the individual choices. Now I look at the cumulative figure for the year, I would have chosen differently on one of those occasions.

And in conclusion…
If anything has struck me, it is that I would do well to consider attendance over a period, and not just the individual days.

But overall, I think I have a good track record – although I say that from the point of view of someone who believes being a councillor (and an executive member) is about much more than just meetings in the town hall. Having said all that, I’m not sure I should be the one drawing any conclusions from any of this – that is surely a matter for Shaftesbury and Wandsworth residents.

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