Monday, 9 July 2007

Why be a local councillor?

"Why on earth do I do this?" were my thoughts last week when the latest cabinet agenda arrived in my pigeon hole. A 354 page long document covering everything from food hygiene to balanced budgets to how people might ever find a home. That's a lot of reading.

The council cabinet is a mixed bunch; Ray and Nick are farmers but David is a university lecturer, Mark helps run one of the local hospitals and Sue is so much more than a retired nurse, Simon does all this whilst still running his business and Daphne was a hard working councillor when I was still at teenage discos.

We had the meeting today. The agenda is laced with decisions that aren't really decisions at all but things we have to do to comply with the latest government directives. A lot of paperwork and thought about how the decisions in Westminster affect us on the ground. Every one of those Westmister downloads costs money here too.

In between those there are real decisions, things to debate to listen to. We listened and learnt. Total time spent in council offices 7 hours.

Tonight I went to two local parish council meetings. From road safety to affordable housing, from flytipping and grass cutting to the white paper on planning issues and putting the roof back on the community hall, these are local issues but important issues to the people who live here.

Tomorrow I will return to council offices for another session looking forward to the year ahead. I've just finished page turning the budget documents in preparation. I'm glad I've had all those years in banking.

This Thursday and Friday I will be attending interviews for a new senior council officer - many of the existing staff are coming up for retirement at the same time. We need to get the right person to get the job done.

Not every local councillor can give the same time to their role - but that is respected. It's more important that the councillors are a mixture of different people with different interests, and we all bring those interests. So like many local councillors I give my time this week willingly.


Brian Moore said...

Vicky an interesting snap shot of a few days in your life been a Cllr. It just shows the level of committment people have got to make. Which at times can be a thankless task.

Best wishes

Vicky Ford said...

Thank Brian - but there are so many times when one is thanked that it is worth it

Brian Moore said...

Interstingly I stopped been a councillor 6-7 years ago and I still get a few (very) christmas cards from people who i helped and they still mean so much. So yes you are right. Saying that my grey hairs have been disapearing since I resigned!

Keep up the good work

Ellee said...

I don't think councillors get the praise and recognition they deserve from their local communities. Nice to see Daphne on her feet. Let's get together soon with my camera for Iain. I feel guilty I haven't used it yet.