Who would be a councillor?

THIS month, candidates will begin to throw their names in the ring before the council elections on May 3.

People across East Renfrewshire and Glasgow’s southside will have a difficult choice to make — is being a councillor, frankly, worth the hassle?

On one hand councillors have a unique opportunity to stand up for their community and fight for what they think is right.

However, prospective councillors are forced to weigh up those positives against the potentially long hours, low pay and sustained criticism from the public and the media.

Stewart Miller, a Conservative councillor for Busby, Clarkston and Eaglesham also works as a farmer.

He says he chose to be a councillor so he could “represent his friends and family”

He said: “There are some drawbacks: you do take a lot of abuse and criticism but as a councillor, you can really make a difference, so it’s worth it.

“Too many are in it for the politics and that’s not what it’s about”.

Having lived in the southside since birth, Langside SNP councillor James Dornan describes the position as a “great privilege”.

He said: “At around £15,000 a year, nobody becomes a councillor for financial gain. It’s a stressful job, one, which, if done properly, means you are on call 24/7.

“I have received calls on Christmas day and in the middle of the night. However, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you can’t succeed and you will be criticised.

“I can understand their frustrations, but I have always done everything I can to assist constituents”.

As Cathcart MSP, Dornan won’t be standing for re-election, something which he speaks of with regret.

“This is a very exciting time for Glasgow and I’m sorry I won’t be a part of it. I truly believe we are set for massive changes”.

Newton Mearns south Labour councillor Iain McAlpine has come under fire recently for his decision to speak out against the proposed Loganswell incinerator, as this means he will no longer be able to vote against any forthcoming proposal.

He told The Extra: “There are some people out there with a bee in their bonnet and they can be quite nasty. That can get you down.

“However, there are good people out there who do appreciate the work we put in. As a social worker I got into this to help the disadvantaged and I hope to continue doing that”.

Mr McAlpine’s fellow ERC administration member councillor Mary Montague alluded to some “rare minority exceptions” to the positive aspects of being a councillor but said “it is rewarding to work with so many wonderful individuals and groups in the area”.

A career in public affairs has always been on Glasgow university politics graduate David Meikle’s mind.

Elected at just 23-years-old, the Pollokshields Conservative hopes he has helped to change the image of the council.

He said: “It’s not right the chambers are made up of retired males, it doesn’t reflect society.

“Young people need to get involved. Being a councillor is a unique opportunity to have your voice heard. It’s very easy for people to criticise us but the majority of us are looking out for constituents, trying to get policies changed on their behalf.

“I do have aspirations for Holyrood or Westminister and this has been a huge learning curve for me. There have been times people have been condescending or difficult because of my age but that has only made me stronger”.

East Renfrewshire’s first Provost, Allan Steele, was a councillor for the Liberal Democrats between 1988 and 2007. He encouraged anybody to sign up “provided that they are involved in the community”.

“I was involved with the community council and residents association and became a councillor to fight for issues that were important to my neighbours and I, such as a resolution to the Braidbar Quarry fiasco.

“Some see being a councillor as a launching pad for a political career, but I was always guided by my own conscience. I often got in trouble for not towing the party line.

“It’s something which requires life experience and a maturity to be able to handle criticism and take difficult decisions”.

n For the next council elections, the notice of poll will be published on March 13.

Prospective candidates can, from March 14, get a copy of the nominations pack from ERC or GCC’s election office.

This includes all of the paperwork and forms to be completed which needs to be returned by 29 March

There is no fee or deposit required to stand as a candidate in local government elections.