Pauline Cotter on being a city councillor

St Albans News asked several current councillors and community board members about workloads and roles. An article was created, based largely on replies from three councillors or community board members who responded, for the August/September St Albans News but for space reasons some details were omitted. Nominations for local authority candidates close on August 16. This is how Cr Pauline Cotter replied by email. These notes are the raw material from which the article draws.

I will try to give you an outline of the hours of work from my perspective, although it varies from Councillor to councillor of course.
I am a City Councillor.
Council meetings per month. =. 3 full days. Council meetings
1 half day ITE committee meeting ( Chair)
1 Parking sub committee meeting..1 hour ( Chair)

Land drainage working group meeting every 2 months = 4 hours per meeting (CHAIR)
Canterbury joint waste committee meeting. 3 per year = 4 hours
Canterbury agency for Energy Trust. Every 2 months @ 2hours (Chair)

Canterbury Museum Trust Board 1 per month = 4 hours
CHristchurch West Melton Zone Committee. 1 per month = 4 hours
Christchurch Urban contaminants working group. 1 per month = 3 hours
Climate Change sub committee 1 hour per fortnight
Council briefing Every Tuesday = 7 hours
ITE seminars and workshops = 4 hours / month

Community Board meetings 2 per month = 4 hours each
Community Board Seminars 2 per month = 2 hours each

The Mayor sets the committees and selects Chairs, but in consultation with the councillors.
Reading time for Council meetings @ 8 hours per meeting, can be more, but it depends what is on the agenda and how many attachments. Agendas can be 400 pages or more at times.
Reading time for ITE @ 8 hours, can be more.
Reading time for other meetings varies but at least 2 hours.
E mails = @ 3 hours per day
Phone calls vary, but an hour or so per day.
Other meetings:
Residents association 3 per month. = @ 2 hours each
Meetings with staff outside of official meetings = @ 4hours per week
Meetings with constituents. = @ 2 hours per week
Openings, launches, events etc. @ one or 2 per week.
NOTE: this is estimation only as its hard to quantify on an average basis as each week is so different. However I think I am working at least 60 hours per week.

I absolutely recommend serving on a community board before standing for council. It’s a very good training ground for Local government processes. Biggest challenge is how slowly the wheels turn, takes ages to get things done, but that’s democracy.
Consultation Drop in sessions can be challenging when residents are opposed.
Its hard to fit family life in if you are a city councillor.The hours are very random, sometimes I can work 7.30am – 8.30pm straight through, other days may be more work at home, others start later finish earlier… very random, absolutely no pattern really, and a call on your weekend time as well, and evenings.


St Albans News thanks Pauline Cotter for taking the time to respond as this gives potential candidates and the rest of Christchurch a better idea of what she does and the time commitment involved.

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About belinda

Involved with St Albans Community Resource Centre and NeighbourNet since 1997
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