Together with my fellow newly elected Councillors, our new various roles and responsibilities have now become a very familiar part of our everyday lives.
The last two months have been a hectic round of numerous training sessions, meetings, appointments to outside bodies and event invitations.
I’ve now discovered how busy local councillors really are!
However, whilst attendance at meetings, committees, and events are an essential part of the role, the most important part for me is the time spent listening to our residents and trying to deal with the many issues that are raised.
As local taxpayers, we all expect particular levels of service from our Council: from the education of our children, regular road sweeping, refuse collection etc…However, not everything runs smoothly!
People are often frustrated and downright angry when things go wrong or not to their liking.
And quite rightly they want to know reasons why this has happened, they want answers.
Councillors can’t always get the answers that people want, but we can at least be there to listen and liase with Council officers to ensure that residents’ views are important and that as their elected Councillor we can be their voice at the Council.
Being a Councilllor has its own frustrations for us too (we are only human!).
From not being able to speak to the right officer, or get things done quickly enough because of budgets, to attempting to cut through red tape when a serious case arises that needs immediate action.
We too have to follow procedures and protocol when requesting the Council to deal with a problem, and this often takes time.
The last two months have seen an enormous mix of issues that I’ve been contacted directly about:-
From getting roads swept and weeds cleared, I’ve been asked by Council tenants to make a request for new front doors, new kitchens, gates etc, I’ve been supporting parents with children with Special Needs and Learning Difficulties, to listening to residents’ views on Council policies, to name but a few.
I have also been working with my fellow Stifford Clays Councillor on pushing for a new safe crossing in Long Lane, a solution to the cars parked and left for sale along Lodge Lane outside residents properties and liaising with Council Officers and Police officers on local problems such as criminal damage issues affecting residents, and youth provision; somewhere safe for our young people to go.
Holding a regular monthly surgery in Stifford Clays, many residents know that if they have a problem or want to discuss an issue, myself and fellow Councillor Diana Hale are always available, willing to listen and will communicate directly with Senior Council Officers to bring resolution where we can.
We can also be contacted by phone or email or by letter to the Council.
If I’ve learnt anything in my first few months, it is not to take things personally when people are angry, this is often driven by fear when changes are proposed or when things go wrong.
The most important thing is to listen and to reassure that their views will be heard.
Sometimes it is all that is needed, for someone to take their problem seriously.
My contact details are:
Phone: 0845 300 5277 or mobile: 07824 540711
Stifford Clays – ward monthly surgery (Councillors Diana Hale and Angie Gaywood) : 2nd Saturday of each month, at Headon Hall, Crawford Avenue, Stifford Clays, 9am till 11am