... on being a TOWN COUNCILLOR
I was coopted as a Town Councillor in June 2011. Since then I have been working hard on helping make Buckingham an even better place in which to live, work, visit, shop, play and study. I am an active member of several Council committees (Resources, Planning & Environment) and chair the Communications Strategy Sub Group, which takes charge of the 'Buckingham Town Matters' (BTM) quarterly newsletter.
Through BTM, we aim to to let people know about Town Council activities and events, how we spend your money and our ambitions for our town. We also use it as a medium for people to let us what you think of what the Town Council is doing and provoke debate about the future. BTM has focused much on our emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan, seeking to engage as wide a group as possible, about the future shape of Buckingham. (Past copies of all editions can be seen here.)
Over the last few years, I have represented the Town Council on several other organisations including the Aylesbury Vale Association of Local Councils, the Aylesbury Vale Transport Users Group, the Buckingham Economic Group, the Local Strategic Partnership and the Buckingham Youth Centre Management Committee. I also represent the Town Council on the Local Area Forum.
I am not really a meeting addict! All of the committees and organisations listed above provide a space in which I look for ways to bring more health, emjoyment and prosperity to the town and its people. And although being a councillor has its tedious moments (!), the vast bulk of my time I spend in the company of good-hearted people who share similar ambitions to my own: we just want what is best for Buckingham and its surrounding settlements.
Moreover, I enjoy the chance that being a councillor offers me to meet with and listen to a wide range of people. As Town Councillors, all of us are only here on behalf of the people of the town. Speaking for myself (although I suspect I am not alone), I learn from and thrive on the ideas, challenges and contributions from all who get in touch. (Thank you!)
Over the last few years, I have been busy working on a variety of projects including:
initiating and driving onwards with the idea to establish a fast coach service (nicknamed the X444) to run from HIgh Wycombe to Northampton via Buckingham. With growing numbers of people living along the route, the impending East/West rail link at Winslow, the ambitions plans to develop employment at Silverstone Park and the growth of further & higher education up down this North/South corridor, it strikes me as essential we have a public transport service to match.
facilitating the process and working closely with fellow Town Councillors and Officers on developing a coherent strategic plan for the Council so that we have a set of 'business' ambitions, objectives and improvement action plans that can support the Neighbourhood Development Plan and help us provide even more value for money
using my professional skills to introduce more interactive & engaging meetings to share good practice and ideas across the Vale of Aylesbury. Sponsored by the Local Strategeic Partnership, this included a large jamboree of ideas and learning for organisations concerned with building community cohesion, peace and well being. In my view (and blowing my own trumpet a little), my nudging, polite feedback and willingness to help, has helped make many conferences and large meetings more participatory and productive.
Much of the work that Town Councillors do is fairly invisible, although all of our meetings are open to the public, minutes are published etc. This is one of the reasons why I write a range of letters to the local newspaper: to stimulate debate and discussion about issues of importance.
I am proud to be a Labour councillor (one of several on the Town Council). I have been a party member for over 30 years and always look for ways to improve the lives of the many not the few. I do know that my party flag and some of my opinions provoke a, dare I say, less than positive reaction from many people in this area. But I have to be honest and open about my convictions which is why I would not stand on an 'independent' ticket or keep my politics hidden in other ways.
But I hope that in the end, people see through the label to the person: in my role as Town Councillor, all I want to do is to work with and for local people in making Buckingham an even finer town.
From May 2017 to May 2019, it was my honour to be Mayor of Buckingham. You can read all about my two years as Mayor here.