Last night Wrexham Council opened their doors for prospective councillors to gain an insight to what it takes and means to be elected. When the evening formally began there was standing room only left in the presentation, with uptake of the evening apparently exceeding expectations. There was comment on the number of existing members there, however that in itself proved useful as lots were on hand to answer questions.
Dr Helen Paterson, the councils Chief Executive gave a presentation running through who the council were, the structures in place and recent achievements. This in itself was an education for some in the room, who were unaware that council tax was such a small part of the council’s income and how much was spent overall!
Trevor Coxon followed up in his role of Head of Corporate & Customer Services outlining further structures and policies, in effect telling the prospective councillors where they would fit in and what their role would achieve.
After the short presentations an invitation was extended to visit the council main chamber upstairs in the guildhall, where refreshments (tea, coffee & biscuits) were provided along with stands containing information for prospective candidates. On hand included a panel of existing councillors to answer any questions, plus providing a ‘day in the life’ handout to give insight to what exactly being a councillor involved. Other stands included information on legal issues, the expenses & pay plus the nitty gritty of how to stand.
The evening was the first of its kind held by WCBC and the feedback seemed very positive on the night, with one prospective candidate commenting “I have spoken to the council on the phone, but reading the booklets and being able to speak face to face with actual councillors is much more useful and makes it more real”.
Another commented that there ought to be more focus on the nuts and bolts of how to stand, in terms of form filling and the actual process however did acknowledge the aim was for it to be a taster and overview rather than formal training.
All in all a very useful exercise by WCBC and hopefully one that becomes a fixture on the calendar to encourage and involve people in local democracy!
Interested? Check out the WCBC ‘Becoming a Councillor‘ Page !
Are you thinking of standing? Did you go last night? What do you think of our current councillors? Post on our forums or leave a comment below…