ANOTHER May, another election...yes, it is that time again and we are heading into another bout of political posturing and sabre-rattling.

When I first began covering council meetings in East Lothian, I somewhat naively thought that decisions were made by individual councillors representing their community’s best interests and nothing more.

Boy was I wrong.

Party politics play as big a part in decision-making in the council chambers as they do in Holyrood and Westminster. I think many people would be astonished if they attended a council meeting and heard the insults hurled across the chambers between opposing camps.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that our councillors stand for election in the belief they will serve their community best, but once elected they seem to find themselves drawn into a blame game which feeds off the political divide – and ‘the big boys did it and ran away’ seems to be the mantra of all sides.

The very fact that both sides of the divide hold pre-meeting meetings, where decisions about how they will vote are discussed, before matters have even been debated, leads me to wonder how democratic the process really is.

Part of the problem, of course, is that meetings are held during the week and are rarely attended by the public. This gives free range for some astonishing outbreaks of childish name-calling and grown-ups openly sniggering at another’s point of view or rudely tut-tutting during another’s comment.

This does not, of course, relate to all councillors, but there are a few whose mammies need to take them aside.

The only meetings to regularly draw public attendance are planning and licensing, where individuals can state their case. These meetings – thank goodness – tend to be less blighted by the type of behaviour I describe.

I welcome talk of future meetings being broadcast on the web so the public can tune in to any meeting at any time. It will be interesting to see if this brings about better behaviour in the chamber.

In the meantime, March sees a month packed with council meetings as local elections loom.

I would urge you, if you have never been to a council meeting and are planning to vote, to go along and watch your local councillor in action. It will be quite an eye-opener!