It’s that time of the year again, as the school holidays end, the party conference season starts.
The Liberal Democrat conference is in Glasgow, starting with a rally on jobs (aim: to create another million jobs with more apprenticeships and support for business) on Saturday night and then four packed days of debates across the whole spectrum of topical issues.
We’re a liberal party, so it’s not always an easy ride for party leaders, especially in government. I always listen and learn from Vince Cable. Nick’s summing up a debate on strengthening the UK economy.
There are motions on home care, race equality, domestic violence, fairer taxes, housing benefit, our general election themes, and an emergency motion which we vote on – I hope that it’ll be on the UK government’s response to Syria. So I should start the autumn better informed and wiser!
Councillors’ accounting for all of their work
How should councillors report the work they do?
I’ve been on the council for over ten years now.
When I was first elected (in December 2002), the level of allowances paid to councillors was raised significantly (I have to say that I didn’t know what it was when I stood for election) and part of the ‘deal’ was that we would complete ‘activity’ sheets on which we self-report how many hours each day/week we spend on council work. (Attending meetings, ward work, research and admin etc.) And this is entered onto the council website for anybody to see, alongside a listing of meetings we’ve attended.
Not a perfect system but a way of demonstrating what we’re doing.
There has been talk for some time of stopping and changing it. A report is coming to the Business and Governance meeting to do just that and replace it, possibly with an Annual Report.
We’re not happy with that (it should be both!) and we’ll be opposing it in the meeting.
As councillors we need to build up trust and respect with local people, and I’m worried that this will have the opposite effect.