It's good to talk
PUBLISHED: 11:04 08 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010
DO North Herts District Council councillors deserve increased allowances? From my own recent experience the answer is a resounding NO. On January 4, a letter signed by more than 60 residents was sent individually to each of the six Royston district counci
DO North Herts District Council councillors deserve increased allowances? From my own recent experience the answer is a resounding NO.
On January 4, a letter signed by more than 60 residents was sent individually to each of the six Royston district councillors. Only one, Cllr F John Smith, bothered to even acknowledge receipt.
Now let us turn to the subject of district councillors' surgeries. A surgery was prominently advertised on the Royston Town Hall notice board to take place on January 6, and as a result a group of us had arranged to attend.
However, a short time before the day we learned purely by chance that the surgery had been cancelled. I informed the appropriate council officer that the notice was still up, but it was not removed until literally the day before the cancelled surgery.
The new date for the surgery was advertised for February 3 scheduled from 10.30am - noon.
A group of five of us arrived at 10.30am and were told by the council officer that NO councillors had turned up.
We waited until 10.45am when I suggested that the officer should try to contact a councillor who was scheduled to attend.
After having to provide him with a phone number, he eventually managed to make contact and the councillor turned up at 11am.
Another councillor, who was not due for duty, agreed to come in and arrived shortly after.
I believe that about 12 constituents came to the surgery and at least one had to leave before a councillor arrived.
I have taken up the matter of councillors' surgeries with Cllr Smith and have been told he considers there are more effective and less expensive ways of engaging with councillors.
However, as they do not respond to letters, even though getting expenses to do so, it would seem that direct contact through surgeries is still the best method, provided councillors can be persuaded to turn up.
I was further advised that it costs £110 to advertise each surgery, but I'm sure that residents would be happy with a realistic list of future surgery dates displayed on the expensive new notice board outside the town hall.
It has been stated that an average of 2.4 people attended surgeries between February, 2005 and September 2006. This can be a misleading statistic as a small number attending can be representing much larger numbers, as I have done myself on two occasions.
With such misinformation about dates and cancellations, is it any wonder that constituents are disillusioned and do not attend.
Hollies Close, Royston