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.
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
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.