The Mirror this morning has a story about a Tory councillor in Kennet facing the chop after attending just two meeting in 15 months. Of course with 20,000 councillors this problem crops up from time to time and I’m not sure it merits a national news story. Rather more newsworthy is the similar attendance rate of Ealing councillor Virendra Sharma as he also happens to a Labour MP. Tory councillor Phil Taylor has details.
But what can be done to avoid this sort of problem? I think one answer is selecting candidates early – very early, months if not years ahead of Polling Day. This means that those are seeking to become councillors for the wrong reasons can be spotted and deselected in good time. It also means those who see it through are far more likely to win as they will have had plenty of chance to campaign and that on day one of their election they will have a thorough knowledge of the issues that matter to the residents in their ward.
Of course this won’t solve the problem as there will be some who face some unforeseen change in their circumstances and there will always be reluctance to hold byelections when they can be avoided.