A Freedom of Information request has revealed the number of held and cancelled surgeries by elected members in West Dunbartonshire since May 2017.

Jonathan McColl, council leader, held the fewest surgeries, with only 18.

Councillor McColl told the Reporter: “Councillors’ surgeries are a remnant of a bygone age when the public were forced to go to a specific place at a specific time to see their local elected representatives.

“Although I hold a monthly surgery, as modern councillors, we are all able to be much more accessible, with mobile phones, email addresses and social media.

“I’m available to meet constituents every day at a time and venue that also suits them, whether that’s a council premises, at their workplace during their lunch break, or even in their homes in the evening.

“I think it would be wrong to restrict my availability for constituents to limited times and places solely of my choosing.”

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Community Party councillor Jim Bollan held more meetings with constituents than either the SNP or Labour groups in Dumbarton.

He held 250, with Labour totalling 221 and SNP 189, across Dumbarton and the Vale.

He told the Reporter: “I am a full time councillor with no second job. When elected, we gave a commitment to be accessible and accountable to our constituents and the main way I try to do this is by holding 12 surgeries every month spread across the Leven ward, at various different times and locations.”

Bailie Denis Agnew, who hasn’t cancelled a surgery since election in 2003, said: “Surgeries are very important, and you should make yourself available regardless if people turn up. I’m answerable to them, not anyone else.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, who held 33 surgeries, said: “Since being elected in May 2017 I have met with three constituents at my surgeries.

“I recently reviewed their effectiveness and decided to reduce mine to one a month in the venue where I’ve had constituents visit.”

Councillor Sally Page, who held 75 surgeries, said: “The surgery is a very important part of how councillors make themselves available to their wards.

“Councillors are there in their wards to tackle issues that people are concerned about, to promote ideas, and to get the best for their wards.”

Councillor Ian Dickson told the Reporter: “Surgeries are just one small part of a councillor’s week. The figures published here don’t give the whole picture.

“The real picture is very different from the narrow view that counting surgeries can give.”

Councillors McAllister, Page and Dickson all said constituents prefer to use other means of contact, including travelling to meet face to face, home visits and social media.

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Councillor Jim Finn, who cancelled 25 of his scheduled 59 surgeries, said: “I had a triple heart bypass, so I’ve been unwell for the last year.

“Surgeries are underused, talk to any councillor. Nobody shows up, or some weeks you get two or three people.”

Most members are part-time and many have other jobs.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) acts as an employers’ association for its 32 member authorities.

Its guide suggests councillors “hold surgeries – regularly and often”.

No other councillors responded to the Reporter’s request for comment.