Friday, 1 February 2008

Standing in

Helped out at one of the councillors surgeries this week.

It's a while since I have done this. when I lost my seat in May I went from doing two surgeries a week to doing none.

At the time I had wondered about the efficiency of doing so many and of choosing those times. As more and more people prefer to get in touch by phone, letter and (increasingly) e mail, I had wondered whether there was in fact a decreasing demand for face to face surgeries. I actually started an analysis of the types of issues, numbers of people etc. I wanted to survey the best times, the best venues and the best frequency for surgeries. As a councillor you need to make sure that what you are doing is genuinely meeting needs rather than just following a pattern.

This week's experience showed that although fewer people use sugeries and there is less demand, there will always be a need.

Some people simply prefer to come at an advertised time and talk face to face. Others (and this was very clear this week) want to show documents.

It feels a little wrong to say that I found listening to people's problems satisfying, but helping out this week, meeting people, taking up issues, suggesting solutions etc reminded me of what I had enjoyed about being a councillor. Not all problems can be solved, and it's upsetting when that happens, but some can and that is really rewarding.

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