Most Councils in England, Wales and Scotland have a month in which no formal meetings take place. Usually this is in August. This month is often referred to as ‘Recess’. That term is slightly misleading. Though there may not be any formal council meetings the job of a councillor still goes on, particularly regarding casework.
However ‘recess’ is an opportunity to have a well-deserved rest and catch up on the jobs that it is easy to slip behind with during busy months of council meetings.
Make sure you take a break
If you do intend to take time off during recess – make sure that you do!
Councillors are entitled to holidays as much as anyone else. Taking time for yourself keeps you healthy and recharges your batteries for busier times of year.
If you are on holiday don’t feel bad about turning your council phone off and putting an out-of-office on your emails. As your address is in the public domain avoid putting dates or details (for instance if you are abroad) on your out of office.
If you need a long break – even if it is a staycation – take one. Put yourself first and take the time you need to recharge.
But remember Casework doesn’t stop over recess
Residents will still need your help during the summer break.
If you are on holiday make sure there is an out-of-office on your email (and a voicemail message on your council phone) to make people aware you are not available. You can direct them to a Lib Dem ward colleague, or your council support office if you don’t have a Lib Dem colleague.
If you are at work then try to respond to casework as promptly as usual. Council services will still be running for you to process it.
Attend Community Events
During the Summer holidays there may be special events to attend. For instance fun days, fairs, concerts and all sorts of other things that you can attend as a local councillor. Maybe in a local park or community centre in your ward.
Try to go along and get involved in events relevant to the communities you represent. You’ll find you have lots of very pleasant and positive conversations with residents.
A good opportunity to Catch Up
May, June and July can be very busy months in the life of a councillor. Particularly after a local election there may be new administrations being formed, new committees to get to grips with, lots of meetings and training to attend etc.
If you are newly elected your feet may not have touched the ground yet!
It is perfectly understandable to fall behind on casework and campaigning. I like to use recess to do a full review of my outstanding casework and progress/resolve as many issues as possible.
Similarly if I am behind with delivering my leaflets I like to take advantage of having a month with no council meetings to catch up.
Summer is a great time to be out campaigning. The days are long and the weather is (usually!) nice and dry. There may be some good campaigns you can do over summer. For instance it might be a good time to do a street stall in an area of high footfall. It’s also an ideal time to knock on doors and speak to residents.
Summer Surveys are a perfect way to engage with residents and gather important information over the summer. You can either distribute them when knocking on doors or deliver them as a mailing using one of ALDC’s Bulk Buy offers.
Finally remember to have a rest!
It’s worth repeating that, if the month of ‘recess’ is your opportunity to have some time off and look after yourself, make sure you do that.
But around your time off, recess is also a good chance to focus on your ward and get on top of local issues at a more relaxed and comfortable pace.
Have a restful Summer.
It is nice to see that you say people should have a rest. I think though, promoting all things you can do as well is a bad idea, please be more low key on requests, people deserve a rest and no it is not a time to catch-up it is time to rest. This goes from the top down asking Councillors for more, when even if they on holiday are still dealing with casework, and deliverers who have worked hard all year and deserve time off.