I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of local Councillors. Asking “What’s the point of a councillor? What are they for?”.
I’ve always been very proud to represent the Ashfield Council ward I was born in, proud to speak up for my area in the Council and happy to fight for the changes I know Ashfield needs.
Lately though two big events have caused me to question if that’s what I should be doing.
Recently I sat through the Council budget meetings at both Ashfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County council. Both Councils are run by Labour, both voted to increase council tax and both voted to cut many local services.
At both of these meetings I and other opposition councillors argued against more taxes for less services, we challenged the budgets and fought for vital services.
We were told by the ruling party that they did not have a choice, and that being a councillor was not about doing what we wanted to do, but about doing what we had to do.
So, I asked myself, what is the point of a councillor?
I am certain it’s not ‘doing what you have to do’. I know there are some things that can’t be altered, but actually doing something new, being ambitious for change, fighting for a better place to work and live is exactly what I wanted to get elected for.
If proof was needed to reassure me, at both of these meetings, full opposition budgets were put forward. Both were able to freeze Council tax, by taking a grant offered by the Government and both protected vital front line services.
There are different ways of doing things, and the debate is on which is right or wrong, or better than the other. The debate should not be about just having to go through the motions.
So, what’s the point of a councillor? My reflections have drawn me to the same conclusion as before. We are there to speak up for our area, fight for the change we need and leave our community a better place than we found it.
Mostly we should never be there to take the easy option. We should be all dedicated to working together to getting the best for Ashfield, challenging the staus quo, and doing things differently.
I want our area to be proud and ambitious, with opportunities for all. That’s what I’ll continue striving for.