One of the ways Let's Fix Britain
can improve Britain is by encouraging members to become part of
the machinery which runs our
society. With this in mind, we present a series of articles
describing the work of our public servants. If you are a public
servant, please consider
joining, and writing for us.
Over to David.
I first stood as a Councillor
in a London Borough. I thought there wasn't much point being an armchair
politician; you needed
if you could understand
people, to listen to their concerns, and to see if you could help to
At that time some of the most urgent need was for decent
housing. I remember having to take the case of a family of five children in
a two bedroom flat
to the Housing Management Committee, to see if they could get higher up
the list for re-housing. They were given a 4 bedroom flat on a new estate
lives improved dramatically. However the new estate had no play facilities,
no shops, poor transport links and totally inadequate parking. It took
us years to repair the problems of inadequate planning.
More recently, on Bedfordshire County Council I've specialised
in education. This has meant hundreds of hours visiting schools, talking
with teachers and support
staff, listening to parents, and sitting in working groups. One of the
highlights was in the late 80s, being able to work in a joint way with
Liberals to open up 50 units in Bedforshire Lower Schools for 4+ youngsters
of nursery education. At the time this was not supported by central Government,
but it became very popular in Bedfordshire. We now get the benefit of
central funding to expand preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds, and to support
up of seven new Children's Centres in areas of greatest social need, for
0-3 year olds and their parents, with combined help from health, social
services, employment and education. All this is a long term investment
to enable far
more youngsters to start their formal schooling without the huge disadvantages
that many of them have today.
The life of an elected councillor is what you make of it.
In Bedford, we co-operate across the Borough and County Council Labour members
so that, for
example, there is always a Councillor on duty at the central library every
Saturday morning. Last week I had enquiries about cycle ways, town centre
redevelopment, the possibility of opening a new post office, traffic calming
and new boundaries for next year's County Elections. I attended the funeral
of an old friend who helped me in my patch to keep in touch with local
electors by delivering leaflets and answering telephone enquiries, I attended
cream tea for Labour members in Kingsbrook Ward and I had a couple of phone
calls from the MP about education and social services.
August is often a little quieter for politicians, but it's a good time to
think ahead and consider what we should be aiming for in the next few years.
I'm drafting an education piece, which has the interest that it looks back
to 1985 in Bedfordshire and forward to 2010. As soon as September starts we'll
be back on the daily stuff, including the current review of services for children
and families with special educational needs.
So, if you like having a grasp of local strategy and are prepared to do the
necessary slog of maintaining contact with up to 6000 people locally, stand
for the Council and give it a whirl!
County Councillor for Castle Ward,Bedford.