My View by Nadeem Murtuja

Nadeem Murtuja
Nadeem Murtuja

It’s time to scrutinise what councillors do

If you like me, have been following the political conference season with keen interest, and still coming to terms with the most gargantuan ‘bloomer’ from Godfrey ‘speak your mind’ Bloom, MEP, you’re probably wondering what’s new, or how does that policy relate to me?

Closer to home, we have our own political drama unfolding, it’s called the Boundary Review consultation, that aims to ensure we have the right number of councillors who can represent us on the council. The problem is, I do not know what makes an effective councillor. In my 11 years (as a Doncaster resident) I’ve never met my local councillor, and nor would they know my views. I suspect that is the same for a lot of people.

Yet, when I have met councillors (I’ve met a few) they tell me that most residents are only bothered about clean streets. This if you think about it, means that life isn’t that bad in Doncaster, despite the fact that children have died of abuse, some people in neighbourhoods will die 10 to 15 years earlier than people who only live a few streets away and there are young girls who are potentially more likely to become pregnant.

The problem is that not only do we pay for councillors we also pay for government commissioners – who still don’t fully believe our councillors are ready to govern in Doncaster, and question their commitment. For example they stated in their submission to the Boundary Commission (April 2013): “Given Doncaster’s well publicised problems with children’s social care one might think would be of great concern to members, as one way in which they can all contribute to improving outcomes for vulnerable children.

“At the two seminars on this issue held in March and September 2012, attendance was 10 and seven out of 63 members”

So, what makes a good councillor, given, they make decisions in our name?

I want councillors to stand up for constituents, removing party loyalty. I would like councillors to tell us in detail which decisions they supported and policies they objected to because they realised the impact on you, me, us. I would like to see this information routinely published – so I can feel the change that I voted for is real.

I want all councillors to be given mandatory in-depth training and awareness of all the major key issues affecting the town and their constituents.

Above all, I want councillors to remember that it is the people who elect them and their own (chosen) party who nominates them – not the other way round. I do hope the Boundary Commission considers the whole functionality of a councillor, which if they don’t, may save money in the short term, reduce councillor numbers, but will not necessarily support and meet the needs of residents.

What do you think? email