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My first week as a Councillor
Much to my delight, and that of my hard-working colleagues, I was elected to St Albans City and District Council last week. Exciting for its own sake, but also because I'm the first Green Party Councillor here.
Without the support of a party group on the Council, I have relied on Council officers for my introduction so far to life at the Council. But I've also had some friendly conversations with experienced councillors from other parties. It may seem strange, but everyone is not at each other's throats the whole time. After the tension and hard work of election time, there is a palpable release, and those who still have their seats after the event have a sense of camaraderie and shared desire to get on with the coming year's business.
I've had a stack of paperwork to read, and countless emails. And casework from residents, both within my ward and beyond, has already started to come in. I've got tours and meet and greet sessions at the Council, as well as more formal training.
People sometimes think District Councillor is a full time paid job. It isn't. The idea is that you do it in your spare time, so most of the meetings are in the evening. There's no pay, but there is an 'allowance', to go towards your expenses and any lost income as a result of doing council business. Like many companies these days, you don't actually claim for your expenses, you get a flat amount. For most councillors this equates to roughly £100 a week.
Next week is the first Full Council meeting, when the new mayor gets elected and the new administration formally starts. After that, the fun really starts.