Member Attendance 2015-2019
To consider the above report
Members considered member attendance statistics for the current term of office.
The Managing Director explained that the report highlighted the intention to better use the Modern.gov system in the next civic year, including a request that the annual report from the Employment and Member Standards Panel include details of member attendance. The report was being presented to Full Council now to enable any issues to be picked up in advance of the new municipal year. An example that had already been raised was to ensure that where the Mayor or Deputy Mayor sent apologies for a council meeting due to a mayoral engagement, this would be recorded as ‘apologies due to council business.’
Councillor Dudley proposed the recommendations in the report. He highlighted a number of councillors who had an attendance record of over 90%. He thanked Councillor Beer for all he had done as a Member; Councillor Beer would not be standing for re-election in May 2019. Councillor D. Wilson was the most hard-working councillor having attended 235 meetings with an attendance rate of 99%. The statistics were a useful tool to understand the efficiency of councillors. The inclusion of voting records in future would also be important.
Councillor Jones welcomed the transparency element relating to voting records. However there were many reasons councillors were unable to attend meetings including family holidays, caring for dependents and bereavement which she felt should be recorded.
Councillor E. Wilson commented that as council meetings were funded by the taxpayer, it was right that residents should know what councillors were up to. Councillor N. Airey highlighted that the maternity policy was now in place. Councillor Bicknell commented that with the reduction in the number of councillors from May 2019 and the volume of meetings, variances would occur. It was not about making excuses; people would understand that 100% could not always be reached as Members had families who would need to come first sometimes. However the statistics were useful to identify trends.
Councillor Saunders commented that he supported Councillor Bicknell’s comments. There had been about 10 meetings that he had not attended as he had not felt his mental health had been sufficiently strong. He did not feel that reasons for non-attendance needed to be detailed. Members had to honestly accept that if there were aspects of their life that affected their role as a Member, this was part of the package that people would be voting for. He was happy for absences to be shown without explanation.
It was proposed by Councillor Dudley, seconded by Councillor Bicknell, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: ThatFull Council:
i) Notes the Member attendance statistics for all councillors for the period 26 May 2015 – 8 February 2019 (Appendix A).
ii) Requests the Employment and Member Standards Panel annual report to Full Council from 2019/20 to include details on Member attendance.
iii) Requests officers to identify ways to expand the data available on the council website in relation to Member attendance, voting statistics and declarations of interest at meetings, for implementation from the start of the 2019/20 municipal year.