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Why would you want to be a Councillor?

Published by Paul O'Brien on Monday, January 14th, 2013 at 10:40 am

Viewed with suspicion by some, belittled by others, derided by the media both locally and nationally, over worked and underpaid. For some a wider career ending move with little reward at the end, with even the possibility of a small pension set to be removed by Ministers.

Managing a significant but diminishing budget, making cuts to services the vulnerable rely on and staff redundant, it’s all in a day’s work in the current economic environment.

But who else is there to make the tough choices that need to be made and tackle the major public policy decisions facing society at a local level. That’s why the public elect you because they don’t want the responsibility of making the impossible choices that exist when you are rationing scarce resources.

Having worked in local government for a very long time I can honestly say that the vast majority of Councillors are hard-working, honest, genuine people who are involved in public service because they believe they are making a difference for the people who live in their communities.

The recent report ‘Councillors on the frontline’ and the reaction to it unfortunately didn’t surprise me. Why when MP’s are currently negotiating increases to their own terms and conditions is the suggestion that locally elected representatives who invest a huge amount of time and energy on the public’s behalf, for a fraction of the pay, met with such an outcry?

If we truly believe in local democracy then surely it’s in all our interests to widen the talent pool interested in being our elected representatives. In order to do so we need to have a decent level of remuneration.

It saddens me to say that at present it doesn’t appear to be that appetising a prospect to become a Councillor.


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