Throughout my life I have tended to learn better at the coalface than reading a book… and so it was a year ago I jumped in with both feet and stood for local election and on this day, at silly o’clock in the morning was voted in as Councillor for Clewer & Dedworth Ward in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead 😉
What a baptism of fire… it wasn’t the best of starts with a few individuals, not happy with result, turning into social media trolls… lots of lessons learned! Special thanks to Cllr Lynne Jones, Leader of the Local Independents, who has shared her own experiences, offered guidance and stepped in, in a timely fashion as required throughout this last year.
Lynne helping with the heat meant that I was able to enjoy last summer in Australia with my family 😉 Thank goodness we timed that when we did! Enjoy the dolphin video at the end of this blog?
I have learned a great deal over the last year about how politics plays out. Looking at the finances from the years before it was apparent there were some questions on how the Tories had allowed local budget pots to be overspent… it didn’t feel right so I asked the question at my 2nd full council meeting, greeted with a laugh from the Tories, this soon turned into a major questions as CIPFA were asked in to review things. Little did I realise what I had done, David and Goliath style, shortly after the then Tory leader resigned his post! There were other reasons but let’s not ruin a good story 😉
Since then I feel the Conservatives Councillors have shown me more respect, recognising that my actions have come from a desire for fair play and not for “political” gain, they respond to my questions with a transparency and enthusiasm that I feel confident they wouldn’t show a Councillor wearing a popular coloured badge… and I thank them for that.
I make sure I ask questions and offer the occasional motion at each of the full council meetings as I see it as my duty to do so. It is the only time that everyone gets heard and it is recorded for people to listen back on to see what was actually said, rather than the twist a party may give via their chosen media channels.
My December motion that got voted through was that Councillors would work hard at helping young people get the best start in life… the motion was tweaked before being voted through by adding “iii” for the Conservatives…
“The Police tell me one of the main reasons young people start getting into trouble is limited parental support after school.
i) Recognises many 15-18 year olds could benefit from community support after school for approximately 3 hours a day.
ii) Commits to working harder to find solutions to give our youth the best possible start in life.
iii) Encourages all residents & stakeholders to take part in the RBWM’s consultation on transforming RBWM’s early help services into an integrated Family Hub model 0-19 (up to 25 years for young people with a learning difficulty or disability).
I reinforced this by giving my Cllr community allowance of £750 to The Green Room so they could make alterations to the coach house and stables at The Swan for use by young people. Love this video of Richard and Willy, the guys behind The Swan.
What is fantastic about being a Councillor is you can actually get stuff done… ask the right people in the right way and most issues can be resolved swiftly . Other tasks may take longer but once you know the rules and how things have to be, usually for legal reasons, then you can move forward at the appropriate pace.
Getting Sutherland Grange recycling bins removed has taken 1 year to go to a trial removal but getting a few bins emptied that had been missed for a week or two can take an hour to resolve… if residents ask me and not Facebook!
Social media is a minefield and you have to learn when to just leave stuff alone as there are traps laid for an over enthusiastic new kid to step on… I’m learning to not let the b’tards get to me but it takes time and I’d say today, 95% of the time I simply laugh at their childish antics 😉
But then also social media can be a great tonic, sharing positive stories for Windsor residents to celebrate…
Here are the most popular stories from the last year…
Most recently, social media was brilliant at enabling me to share who was doing what in Windsor around Covid19 and thus helping local residents and RBWM get the information they needed in those early days. Today I estimate over 10% of people are helping their neighbours in some proactive way… excellent work Windsor.
I also had to get myself sorted as my previous contract had come to a natural conclusion after 2.5 years, we’d agreed I would finish at the end of March and so to use March to find my next project. A few CVs dispatched and I could see the reality that the world was closing down. A timely meeting with Tesco’s about helping support West Windsor Hub at All Saints Church and I simply asked Joe the GM if there were any jobs going and by 4:30pm I was doing my induction!
Seven weeks on and I love it… busy full on days with light relief chatting on the tills, lifting the spirits of those that need it, bantering with those that enjoy it, keeping schtum when a customer just wants to pack their bags and get on with the rest of their day.
The impact of Covid19 is not just the loss of loved ones and longer term impacts of the disease but the knock on effects… how this will destroy many small businesses and impact thousands of others… how older people, too scared to go to hospital to have a check up for this or that, see it speed to a natural conclusion… the potential mental impact on those who don’t go out or socialise for 3 months… also how those living in tower blocks fail to get enough fresh air and sunshine, resulting in their immune systems being weakened, etc.
The Government will only be looking after those who officially are labelled “clinically vulnerable” because of the way the law stands at this time but the rest of us need to be looking after ourselves and our neighbours because that’s the way real life is.
The whole labeling thing is nonsense really. Older lady was in yesterday buying a week’s shopping for her and her husband who is labelled and has been told to stay in for 12 weeks. She’s saying they normally do it together and he’s playing on the “get out of jail free” ticket… but not for long, she’s told me he’ll be shopping on his own for however many weeks she is when we get the all clear, we laughed!
Does make a joke of the “regulation”, surely they are a team and should be considered the same by anyone with any kind of common sense making up the rules… oh yeah, there’s the flaw 😉
OK, that’ll do for now, got a few other posts I need to scribble over the next couple of days as when you are grafting on those tills it’s tiring… like doing an expo every day… as for working the shop floor, hats off to those guys, that is proper hard work!
Dolphin video… watch him catch a fish but the sound just before is most interesting… what is it?