Falklands : So You Want to be a Councillor: Birmingham and Luxton Tell it Straight
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 14.10.2005 (Article Archived on 28.10.2005)
Councillors Luxton and Birmingham told it straight to prospective Councillors.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A COUNCILLOR: BIRMINGHAM AND LUXTON TELL IT STRAIGHT
By J. Brock (FINN)
Councillors Luxton and Birmingham chaired a meeting for prospective candidates and interested people in order to inform them what goes into being a Councillor. Firstly there was a brief discussion on how to fill out nomination papers and the requirements to be properly nominated. Among the requirements are being on the electoral roll, acquiring and filling out nomination papers, getting someone to propose you and recruiting supporters and having your papers in by 1630 on 27 October 2005.
They went on to explain the process of the election with the nomination list being gazetted and campaigning. Manifestos will be published in the newspaper on 04 November, with the radio interviews and manifestos being aired around the same time. FINN Also will be contacting candidates for their manifestos.
Unlike the other media, there is no space limit or time limit but it would be appreciated if the longer manifestos were e-mailed or provided on disk. The publication of the manifesto can be at any specified time convenient to the candidate and a photo can accompany the manifesto.
Election or polling day will be the 17th of November, but both Cllrs. Luxton and Birmingham stressed that the real fun begins the day after election when the oath of secrecy is taken and a huge wad of papers is handed to you that must be read over the weekend. The day after includes a steep learning curve with visits to departments and lectures by the Chief Executive and Attorney General etc. on how Government works.
The portfolios were discussed, with both Councillors saying that they are chosen by consensus and if a Councillor felt passionately about a portfolio, he or she usually got it. Not every committee met every month but the important ones did. A list of 28 committee portfolios was circulated, covering everything from Agriculture to Mineral Resources, to Historic Buildings.
Select Committees consist of all eight members and they meet during the Budget session of Legco as well as when something special, like the Constitution has to be revised or renewed.
Good and bad points about being a Councillor were then being discussed. It is good to have your say on things but Councillors are limited in their power because they must have the support of four other Councillors if they want to push something through due process. The bad parts of it are that you are always on duty and people don’t approach you until they get worked up about something. Councillors here in the Falklands are accessible to the public at all times and get phone calls late at night or early morning and are approached in shops on items that amount to nothing but rumour.
The matter of non relevant legislation that needed to be passed due to being a British Overseas Territory and a member of the European Union was discussed with Councillors saying that in order to participate in Overseas Games like the Island Games that sports doping legislation had to be passed. Another area is that defence and foreign affairs legislation require approval in Whitehall.
Councillor Luxton explained he spends 1.5 days a week reading papers and draft legislation and that he has an understanding boss who will let him work around being a Councillor. Cllr. Birmingham explained that his month revolves around meetings with a weekly one on Wednesday with the Chief Executive and various committee meetings throughout the week.
Fifteen people attended the meeting with all 3 media entities present.