IT matters little the time of day, you'll bump into a local councillor no matter the weather, no matter the direction of the hands on the clock.

A group of parents on the south side of Glasgow recently set up a bike bus to encourage children to cycle to school and it's been a huge success for getting little people wheeling their way to school.

Shawlands Primary School bike bus meets at 8.20am in Strathbungo and, if you look at its Twitter feed, you'll see more than one local councillor from more than one political party joining riding along to experience the scheme first hand.

Of course, the back of 8am isn't grossly outwith office hours - but you can bet none of those cycling politicians were knocking off at 4.20pm. I routinely received replies to media enquiries I put to local councillors in the small hours, 1am or 2am when they're trying to clear the decks on tasks not possible to complete during daylight hours. Early morning events, evening meetings, weekend surgeries: being a local councillor is a 24/7 commitment with an unspoken pledge that you'll be available all the hours God sends.

During those hours your remit is as wide as imagination allows; you will be responsible for making sweeping, life changing decisions; and you'll possibly be managing multi-million pounds budgets. And will you be thanked for it?

Constituents have a clever compartmentalising ability to remember an individual councillor for the wonderful work they did helping out a neighbour in a damp flat or ensuring their auntie had her benefits sorted out.

But when it comes to viewing councillors as a collective group, they're lumped in with politicians generally as being grifting, grasping shysters. Amoral and in it for the... well, not the money. The glory?

Hardly. One of the largest and increasing complaints from local councillors is of the abuse they face.

Let's go back to the money. The issue of councillors' pay has come freshly again to the fore as Cosla asks Scottish Government ministers to look at a pay rise for those at grassroots. While MSPs earn £66,600 and MPs £81,900, councillors are remunerated with pay of £18,604.

Now, the role of MSP and MP is full time while the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee assessed the work of councillors to be part time, expecting them to work two-thirds of full time hours. Pro rata, then, a councillor's salary is technically around £28,000.

What a survey by Cosla found, however, is that local politicians are working an average of 38.6 hours per week, which seems surprisingly low. But then, as in all occupations, some will do a lot less than others.

More than two fifths of councillors who answered the Cosla survey reported having a second job and working an average of 24.8 additional hours per week.

So, yes, the £18,604 is pro rata but that means absolutely nothing if you're routinely putting in a near-40 hour week for the money. What it does mean is that councillors are working for less than the Real Living Wage of £9.90 an hour, which, no matter how you feel about elected officials, isn't good enough.

In November last year the issue of councillor pay was a main point of debate at the SNP conference. It was a "great source of personal sadness," Falkirk councillor Laura Murtagh told delegates, that it was a rare day when she and colleagues didn't consider standing down due to anti-social hours, overwhelming workloads and problems with trying to earn top-up wages.

In the survey Scotland's Councillors 2017 to 2022, the average councillor responding to diversity questions was a married white male in his 50s, well educated and a homeowner.

Diversity in local representation is vital in order to ensure that cities and towns function for everyone in them. We need more women, more LGBT+ people, more from ethnic minority backgrounds, and more young people in local politics.

This example is in England, but chimes with views I've heard from young people with an eye on politics here too: "Being a councillor for eight years is like a blot on your CV, rather than an asset," Josh Mason, Lib Dem then-councillor for Redcar and Cleveland, told the Guardian newspaper. He said he looked at his peers and saw how far they had gone in their careers and thought, "where else might life have taken [me] if you didn’t have this ball and chain tethered to you of the local authority?"

If you are young and building a career and starting a family, you need a decent wage to do it and you can't possibly work 63 hours a week to make ends meet. It's no wonder Cosla says women report turning away from local politics too: as women still shoulder the bulk of childcare and caring responsibilities, a job bringing in less than the Living Wage is simply not feasible.

You can wax lyrical all you like about the joys of helping your local community but treating the work of councillors as a heart-of-gold vocation severely limits, as with much volunteer work, those who are able to do it to a very narrow demographic.

One way of addressing the balance is to compress the hours of local councillors but that would be nigh-on impossible to do given the demands of constituents. Another option is to make the role full time but it's a gamble to ask people to leave full time employment for what might be one term.

The only sensible option is a pay rise suitable to the job at hand. For work that keeps you permanently on call and has the potential to affect lives city-wide, The Real Living Wage seems a small ask.