I was interested to see a league table published in the Whitehaven News this week which showed the attendance level of Copeland Borough Councillors at council meetings.
Greater transparency in this area is an extremely good thing and I welcome this: attending meetings is not the only part of a councillor's job but it is a critical one.
The highest three attenders were Lena Hogg with 54 out of 57 meetings (94.7%), Gilbert Scurrah with 33 out of 36 (91.7%) and Sam Pollen with 31 out of 34 (91.2%)
If the figures given in the Whitehaven News are accurate, the most egregious poor attender was John Fallows (Labour, Millom Newtown) who attended just eight out of 33 meetings in the period since May 2011 - fewer than 25%.
There are sometimes excellent reasons why a councillor cannot make a particular meeting, he or she may be representing the council at an outside body which clashes, or may have an unavoidable work commitment or be unwell.
A word of caution, however. This data must presumably have been taken from Copeland council sources such as the council website.
When I was a councillor I kept an eye on the table of councillor attendance published on the Copeland Council website. On more than one occasion I found it was wrong and had to ask for it to be corrected. At one particular overview and scrutiny committee which I attended, for instance, more than half the committee was actually present. But the section of the borough council website which recorded councillor attendance showed only the chair and vice chair of the committee as having been there: if that had been right the meeting would have been "inquorate" and would have had to be cancelled.
Having said that, if there are any mistakes in the data, there is a good chance that any councillors who care enough about the electors they represent to be bothered about what the voters think of them will notice. And presumably write an angry letter if the published table understates their attendance - I know I would have if the Whitehaven News or North West Evening mail had published the CBC table which described me as having been to fewer meetings than I actually had.
If no such letters appear in the next fortnight the voters are probably entitled to assume that the table is at least broadly accurate.