District Councillor


Stella Abbey
I was once asked by a club in the village to give a talk on being a district councillor, and decided to use the theme of "wearing different hats". The job is nothing if not varied! As I am into drama and costume, I took along a set of disguises to illustrate the idea.The first role was SECRETARY. We spend part of each day opening letters, answering the phone, listening to answer-phone messages, nowadays, accessing and writing e-mails. (For this role I donned a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles.) As there is a great deal to learn, we have to be RESEARCHERS. (Here I put on an academic gown.) Information may come from Council papers, from the Council's or the Government's web pages or from enquiries to the officers. When I hand on this information to the public, or suggest where to find it, I feel like a TEACHER. (Here I added a mortar-board to the gown.)

A councillor often has to make judgements, either at a public meeting, or when consulted by an officer on a ward matter. This is far from comfortable, as the individuals or the parish council concerned may not agree with one's decision. The "hat" for this was of course a JUDGE'S wig: perhaps a black cap would have been more appropriate.

On the other hand, a councillor often finds him/herself reassuring or encouraging their constituents. South Somerset District Council is a particularly open council, helping people to speak out at meetings and continually consulting. Advising the young, the shy or the inarticulate makes one feel like a PARISH PRIEST. (At the talk I quickly put on a dog-collar.)

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This page revised 01 May 2009