If you were to create a job advert for the position of borough councillor it would probably read something like this:
“Do you enjoy sitting through five-hour public meetings?
“Are you enthralled at the prospect of traipsing the streets of suburban Cheltenham ringing doorbells and having wary homeowners telling you to go away?
“Does reading a 1,000-page housing strategy document sound like your idea of a good weekend at home?
“Have we got the perfect job for you!”
Perhaps that’s a little unfair but most people would agree it takes a special kind of person to be a successful councillor.
Dozens of people believe they are made of the right stuff, having put themselves forward to fight for one of the 20 seats available on Cheltenham Borough Council when the town goes to the polls on May 22.
But do they really know what they are letting themselves in for?
And are they suited for the role?
Six of the seats up for grabs in 2014 don’t feature a sitting councillor because the incumbents have decided to step down. And some of them have choice words of wisdom for their successors.
Councillor Les Godwin (PAB, Prestbury) is standing down having served on Cheltenham Borough Council since 1991 and on Tewkesbury Borough Council before that.
He sought election time after time because he wanted to make a difference to people’s lives and to give them a voice. He believes those ideas are at the core of every good councillor, so if you don’t care about people, don’t bother.
“One of the things that really grew on me once I got in was that there were a lot of ordinary people in the area who just felt left out of the political scene, particularly at the local council level,” he said.
“Talking to them I just thought ‘this isn’t on’ and that I would do everything I could to protect their interests. That hasn’t changed.”
Mr Godwin believes councillors can be a really strong force for good but “only if they are determined” to stick with things through thick and thin. He believes you have to have a dogged attitude to be a good councillor. “You do, absolutely,” he said.
“I started calling for flood drainage in Prestbury in 1985 and it wasn’t finished until 2012.
“If you are elected you have to make up your mind if you are on the council to make up the numbers or if you are there with a purpose and actually want to do something.”
He believes the council is no place for shrinking violets either.
“Why on earth are you there if you have nothing to say?” he asked.
“You have got to have the determination. It is no good going to meetings being a Weak Knees Willie.”
Meanwhile, Charles Stewart (LD, All Saints), who is stepping down having served on the borough council for five years, believes a good representative has to be able to talk to people and have a proactive attitude.
“You just basically have to get yourself known, so don’t wait until there is an election to knock on people’s doors,” he said.
He believes some people who get elected will be surprised by how much they are called on to do – so if you don’t want to work hard, pull out now.
“I think really it comes down to the issue of time,” he said, “because a lot of people have work commitments and that might put people off.
“You also have the public calling you all the time but that is all part and parcel of the job.”