An interesting meeting was put on this evening for prospective council election candidates, designed to explain both the process and the nature of being a councillor.
The council staff were scrupulously straight in presenting the facts – perhaps the most practically useful being that if the general and council election are on the same day, May 6, (now virtually a certainty), the count for the general election will be on Thursday night (as will the verification of council votes), and the council count will start at noon on Friday. A council officer estimated that will take four hours “depending on the number of recounts”.
But you might have almost thought the panel of existing councillors – Keith Moffitt (LD), Nasim Ali (Lab), Keith Sedgewick (Con) and Adrian Oliver (Green) – was trying to discourage the competition.
The Conservative spokesman had found a neat comparison – London councillors spend an average of 27 hours a week on council business, and the average Briton watches 25 hours a week of television. And he noted that the Local Government Association had found that by the end of their term, on average only one in 10 of their constituents would know their councillor’s name.
But together they were practical, and heartfelt, on the need for worklife balance in councillor’s lives. Keith Moffitt noted in particular that councillors should beware that a couple of consitituents could easily take up many hours of a councillor’s life.
Other useful facts for those attending council trivia competitions: those elected will formally take up their roles on the fourth day after their election, but only after they’ve signed the “declaration of acceptance of office”. If someone hasn’t done that within two months, otherwise the seat is declared vacant. (Wonder if that has ever happened…?)