THE MOST EVENTFUL PERIOD IN UDC HISTORY?
August 11th marks 100 days since the district council elections. Our win in this ward was part of an emphatic vote to take party politics out of local government and put resident representation first. Never before have residents taken control of a district council in England.
To dismiss this as the Brexit effect is to ignore the level of disaffection at the way the district’s future has been placed in the hands of property developers and vested interests. How else can you account for a loss of Conservative seats that was more than twice the national average?
AN INDEPENDENT APPROACH As much as we admire the success of R4U in gaining control of the council it is important to stress we are independent. Our mission is twofold: to put local needs first and to ask the awkward questions, with the right to speak and vote as we wish. We are focused on listening to local residents and doing our best to inspire and improve our community. Working cross-party on an agreed agenda may produce the best results, which is fine by us – the outcome is more important than the process.
GETTING DOWN TO WORK No sooner were the elections over than 23 new councillors including ourselves, together with 16 returning members, were pitched into the Stansted Airport saga and examination of the Local Plan. There were also numerous committees to be populated. Among these, Neil Gregory is chair of Scrutiny and Richard Pavitt is on the Planning Committee. Richard is also on the Garden Communities Governance Board. This is to ensure that if NUGC goes ahead local communities will have someone to represent their interests. our first 100 days were jam packed with council meetings, briefings, training sessions, and parish council meetings. 58 to be precise!
PEOPLE, NOT POLITICS When you look behind the headlines and meet the people responsible for running the council and delivering its services one thing is clear: UDC is an efficient and friendly council. For the most part the people do a great job despite Govt using council funding as a back door for austerity. The change of council control means residents now come first instead of capitulating to a Westminster-driven party agenda. Of course, It won’t be easy. Govt retains a lot of control and at the time of writing local authorities have not been advised how much funding they will receive next year. It certainly won’t be an increase.
KNOTTY PROBLEMS AND HOW TO FIX THEM One of our roles as District Councillors is to get stuck into the complicated issues that fall across different delivery bodies and where it is too easy for individuals to be fobbed off. It is part of the duty of care we accepted the day we were elected. A good example is school transport, which is strictly a county council issue and not a district issue. We are also here to assist parish councils and to represent their interests at district council. We are available most of the time to answer your district-related questions (contact details are at the bottom of this page); and at least one of us will be at most parish council meetings around the ward, so if you’d like a chat do go along to your next meeting and we will see you there.
This article is from the Proudly independent newsletter, August 2019