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Council decisions may have a significant impact on some people’s lives. Often people will have competing interests. In your role as councillor, you have a duty to act in the best interests of the community as a whole.
Acting in the best interests of the community means considering issues fairly and on their merits, and taking all relevant factors into account. Sometimes it can mean making hard decisions that go against community sentiment. This may be the case when it comes to tough decisions regarding rate rises or service cuts.
You should note that acting in the best interests of the community is different from advocating for your community. Advocating for your community is about representing the views of your community, whether or not you support their views. For example, while debating rating decisions at the council table, you may advocate for the view of your community that they do not want to see a rate rise, but, taking all relevant factors into account, you may decide that it is in the best interests of the community to raise rates.
It is normal for councillors to come into contact with individuals and groups who attempt to influence their decision making. You must take care that representations do not improperly influence the decision making process.
You should treat the interests of groups in the community, and the people who advocate those views, with respect. As a democratically elected councillor, you must represent your constituents’ views regardless of your personal opinions or whether they’re likely to attract votes. This can sometimes mean that you will convey the views of a group of constituents to the council, even when you do not support those views.
For more information, refer to the Representations to Councillors information sheet.