LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stop posturing and do the hard work

LAST week’s council meeting exposed a big problem for the opposition on Rotherham Council.

This is becoming a pattern from the Conservative Group, where instead of doing the hard work in committee they are choosing to put forward tough sounding motions with media and social media coverage. Now I’m not saying don’t bring motions but don’t when like in this case you’ve had the chance to do what you are calling for but have literally the month before chosen not to do so.

I’ve commented previously on individual attendances and the issue of missing Tories does call for a look at wider trends across the council. Before the bad news we do have two 100 per cent attendees at core statutory meetings since the last elections, Cllr David Roache and Cllr Ian Jones. For the record mine is 90.5pc and places me 13th, but across the whole council trends are different.

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First of all Labour currently have an advantage not just in terms of seats but in attendance with the average Labour councillor attending 82.3pc of meetings with the average opposition councillor attending 76pc. The figures for each of the opposition parties is RDP 80pc, Lib Dems 75.9pc, Tories 74.6pc, with the average for all councillors being 79.9pc.

There are, by the way, three councillors with less than 50pc attendance since being elected, all from the opposition which I hope but doubt will be reflected in their allowance claims when published

This is literally like handing Labour a whole extra seat on the council, and the headline note is that while the average Labour councillor misses one in five meetings the average Tory misses one in four

Now some might argue that there isn’t much point to the scrutiny committees, so why attend? Well one, if you’re taking the money do the work, but in my experience while I believe there are improvements needing to be made, the constitution and practices of the council do allow any individual councillor to exert some influence on council policy if they turn up and apply themselves.

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You may not get all you want, that’s life when making group decisions, not just the council but I’m currently on working parties for the Rothercard review and climate change action plan, made representations on the REACH consultation, am involved in a review of our market regulations and on each one can say have been listened to and affected some changes. This was the same for the tree service review when pointing out that just eight out of 22,000 trees were planted which led to a recognition that more should be done regards planting in deprived areas.

Now if the Tories had actually turned up to that as well as doing a “my dad is bigger than your dad” motion they might have actually got something that helps their constituents.

Cllr Michael Bennett-Sylvester