I can’t believe that it has already been a year since I was elected. The last twelve months have been some of the most interesting of my life and definitely the steepest learning curve that I have ever been on.
I never expected that I would start my political journey by immediately being appointed to the Council’s Executive Committee. Nor did I think I would be doing it in the newly created role of Executive Member for Climate Emergency.
Climate Change is one of the biggest issues that our world is facing and I am hugely proud to be leading this piece of crucial work on behalf of our Borough and all of our residents. Since our declaration of Climate Emergency in July 2019 huge progress has been made in putting positive climate action at the centre of everything we do as a council. We are currently working on a variety of projects ranging from electric car charging infrastructure and car-sharing programmes to tree planting, solar farms, air quality improvement initiatives and our innovative green bank. Each initiative has its own challenges to bring to life but all of them are hugely exciting steps forward on our journey to carbon neutral by 2030. I am fully aware that mitigating climate change requires urgent action, but it is also essential that when we act we do it right first time and that the actions we take are sustainable long into the future. Changes are coming, and when they do they will be implemented in a way that will last.
The last year has been one of the steepest learning curves of my life. Starting with the election the last twelve months have been one new experience after another. No other role I have had has had such a direct impact on people’s lives. Finding ways to improve the lives of residents, helping them to overcome the problems and issues of their lives, helping them to improve their environments and the streets that they live on, fighting beside them to get a local car park re-opened and returned to council ownership, helping people get access to the services that will improve the quality of their lives, working to report and reduce potholes, and most recently working in the fight against Covid-19, this role is full of the unexpected, life-changing challenges and a large number of Facebook commentators. It’s not for everyone, it’s not what I thought it would be, but it is more enjoyable, more challenging and more satisfying than any 9 to 5. Being a councillor is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life and involves you in so many aspects of Borough life.
As a resident, I think I had a bit of naivety in terms of what the Borough Council did for us, how our council tax was spent and just what we got back in return for our money. The last twelve months have shown me just how much our council does for us, how many unsung heroes there are across our community and just how much work it takes to keep this Borough, with over 165,000 residents going.
Covid-19 has, of course, re-focused almost all aspects of what we as a council and we as councillors have been doing for the last two months. I have seen first hand how our officers have stepped up, adapted to rapidly changing circumstances, continued to deliver our core services and also worked quickly and efficiently to establish a networked response to help keep us all safe during this crisis.
Thank you again to everyone who cast their vote for me. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Climate Change initiatives that I have announced, particularly the resident consultation.
I am now 25% of my way through my term as a councillor. I’ve done a lot, there is still a lot more to do.