Ards and North Down Borough Council is set to publish attendance statistics of all elected representatives, after an Alliance motion secured the latest move towards full openness and transparency.
I managed to secure unanimous support for the plans – which will be updated on a quarterly basis going forward – since ratepayers’ deserved to know attendance rates for their elected representatives. The decision reached at the Council's Corporate Committee is now subject to formal ratification by full Council on 26 September 2018.
When elected, Councillors have a responsibility to not only articulate the concerns of their constituents, but to ensure good governance within the Council. This is primarily done by engaging with officers via the established Committee structure and full Council meetings, reviewing papers, asking questions, debating the issues and reaching decisions. Whilst simply attending meetings is not the only measure by which we should judge Councillor performance, actually being in the building, ready to work is a starting point, except, of course, if the Councillor has legitimate reason to be absent.
As Councillors we receive remuneration for the time we spend fighting for the concerns of those who elected us, so in the interests of full transparency we must be held accountable for the commitment we exhibit as elected representatives.
“Openness and transparency is crucial to secure public confidence in our political system. I’m therefore delighted this motion passed and plans can now get underway for the publication of these statistics, giving the public free and easy access, rather than those seeking the information having to rely upon Freedom of Information legislation to obtain the necessary information.
Motion unanimously agreed at Council's Corporate Committee on 11 September 2018 and subject to ratification by full Council at end of the month: "That this Council agrees that officers should collate and publish on the Council website in a simple and easy to understand manner member attendance statistics including apologies for Full Council and all Standing Committee meetings. Statistics to be updated on a quarterly basis with historical attendance information from 1 April 2015 included.”