The first month in the life of a newly elected Councillor!
Friday 4th May: Election results announced at 2.30 am. A poll of 559 votes secured the former safe Conservative ward of Welwyn West for the new Independent Councillor, who finally got to bed, after celebrating with friends who had helped, at 4.00am!
Sunday 6th: Visit from local Liberal Democrat Leader, Tony Skottowe, who offered his congratulations and assistance. Our discussion focussed on the possibility that I would be denied a place on any committee and looked at what my options might be if that were to be the case.
Tuesday 8th: I presented myself at Campus East for my first meeting with the Chief Executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. I had hoped to see the Leader of the Council, John Dean, who agreed to see me the following day.
Wednesday 9th: Meeting with Cllr Dean was cordial but obstructive and he confirmed that no place would be made available to me on any committee as a single councillor. He had the option to grant this, should he wish, but chose not to. I subsequently met with Tony Skottowe and decided to take up the option of forming a Political Group with the Lib-Dems, whilst retaining my Independent status within it. This move would, according to the Local Government Authority, have given our group 5 places on committees between us, in line with proportionality guidelines. However, that was not to be as Cllr Dean gave just three places, two of them on the same Planning committee!
Thursday 10th: Back to the Campus for a meeting with the Parking Services Manager to discuss some of the outstanding issues involving Welwyn Village.
Friday 11th: Morning meeting with the Welwyn Hatfield Times, where the formation of the new political Independent-Liberal Democrat Group within the WHBC was announced. Then back home to meet with local PC, Ben Satchfield, to discuss general policing in Welwyn. From that meeting I learned of the proposed 50% reduction in police hours allocated to Welwyn West. I immediately wrote to the Chief inspector, asking for the full duty to be restored and was pleased to have a positive outcome to that request granted at the end of May.
Sunday 13th: Meeting of new political group to discuss strategy and sharing of duties on committees.
Monday 14th: Attended a Macmillan event in the morning and a new councillor Induction Meeting at Campus East in the evening.
Wednesday 16th: Accompanied the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association members to tour of the Houses of Parliament and meeting with Welwyn-Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, which I had arranged. Discussed the problems of the over- abstraction by Veolia of water from the River Mimram and secured an agreement from Grant Shapps to a meeting with the Friends of the Mimram , together with a promise of his support.
Thursday 17th: Morning meeting with David Cheek, Chairman of The Friends of the Mimram, to discuss future strategy and the proposed meeting with Grant Shapps MP. Afternoon: Visit to Welwyn Allotments and Titmus Yard to inspect damage from fallen boundary fence and crumbling wall, see the photographs below:
Friday 18th: Letters , emails and phone calls concerning the above matters.
Saturday 19th: First Surgery at St Mary’s Church Hall, Welwyn.
Monday 21st: 3 hour training session for Planning Committee. Evening: Annual Awards and Council Meeting at Campus West.
Tuesday 22nd: Visit to two businesses in Welwyn Village to assist with advice concerning planning applications.
Wednesday 23rd: Compulsory Safeguarding Training (3hours) at Campus West.
Thursday 24th: Planning Committee meeting at Campus West.
Saturday 26th – Monday 28th: visit by 40 French members of the Twinning Association from Champagne-sur-Oise. Full-time hosting and activities, here are a few pictures from our very enjoyable events:
Monday 28th: Welwyn Parish Council Meeting in the evening from 7.00pm to 11.00pm!
Wednesday 30th: Attended the funeral of Kim Elliott, whose great personality and charitable work will be greatly missed by the Welwyn community.
Thursday 31st: Follow up visits to businesses in Welwyn village.
Friday 1st June: Call from resident of Welwyn concerning dispute with neighbour. Phone calls, emails relating to this and other matters.
Saturday 2nd June: Visit to Welwyn residents in neighbourhood dispute. Survey of the premises and surrounding area in order to prepare a report on the complaint.
Throughout this period there were literally hundreds of emails on Council matters; Parish Council matters; problems from residents of Welwyn West relating to many issues, ranging from refuse collection times to parking, and invitations to support charitable events and functions. There were also large batches of informational material, all needing to be read, and then indexed and filed for future use, together with lots and lots of research into who does what and where.
So, on balance, this has been a very steep learning curve and an exhausting month. I have plenty of work in hand and many more meetings to come in June. After 8 years of retirement, it has been a return to work full time, leaving very little time for anything else.
However, as I gain experience, I am convinced that this will settle down into an enjoyable routine and I look forward very much to the next few months as I really get my teeth into the job.
If you think I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com