19/09/12......Are councillors' drop-in surgeries a waste of time? -
THAME Town Councillors last night came close to cancelling their regular, drop-in surgeries because of a lack of interest from the public.
The surgeries, which began in 2001, are held on the first Saturday of every month, between 10am and midday. But recently the number of residents calling in with problems and queries has steadily dropped off and often councillors had been left twiddling their thumbs and sometimes would leave at 11am. When this happened, the Information Centre at the town hall has had to close to the public because of restriction on lone working and on one occasion the surgery was cancelled because no councillors were available to attend.
Speaking at last month's Full Council meeting, Ex Mayor, cllr Jeannette Matelot Green, remonstrated with councillors who had left the town hall before midday, comparing their actions to that of a hairdresser who goes home because she doesn't have clients booked in for the rest of the day.
Whilst some councillors considered that the lack of interest indicated that the surgeries were a waste of time, others recalled surgeries where up to eight residents had attended, and thought the problem was a lack of publicity about the surgeries.
The Clerk insisted that the surgeries were regularly publicised in the local press. Councillors finally agreed to look into other ways of drawing the public's attention to the opportunities to talk to councillors, and to meanwhile carry on with the monthly surgeries and to review the situation in a year's time.