A proportionate montage of what a Battersea councillor might have been spending their time on over the past few months.

One of the questions I’ve been asked a few times recently is what a councillor actually does. I don’t think I’ve ever given a satisfactory answer. However, it does provide an excuse to post this.

While I was sat in the library with no-one showing up for my surgery – again – I made a note of the numbers and categories of attendees at previous surgeries. It rather left thinking that my two year run of no-shows was personal, since the average Battersea surgery in the fifteen weeks in the log book was attended by just over one person (just over two if you include the councillor).

I hope I’m not treading on colleagues toes in publishing this (I’m only interested in the attendees), but felt it was vaguely interesting.

Taking the broad category of complaint the numbers broke down as follows:

  • Housing: 6
  • Transport/parking: 3
  • Financial: 3
  • Crime: 2
  • Planning: 2
  • Education: 1

It holds up my theory that housing is the biggest generator of casework for councillors, although it seems, for the Battersea area at least, it’s not quite as big as I thought.

Of course, those broad headings can cover all sorts of cases. And although there’s a fairly clear set of topic categories and sub-categories (28 in total) there’s obviously a lot of grey areas between some of them. For example (and off the top if my head, I don’t know the details of the specific cases above) the ‘crime’ category includes anti-social behaviour, some of which can also be covered by environmental services, for example noise nuisance and might be categorised differently.

I still don’t think it answers the question. But it gives a little flavour, at least.

[Two of the images used were released by their owners under a Creative Commons licence. The money by HowardLake and the plans by MarkyBon]