My family and I came to live in Beverley Ward in early 2001, and I soon became a party activist. I was selected as a Council candidate (there being no vacancy in Beverley) to stand in Canbury in 2006 – but failed to be elected. After that I continued to pound the streets delivering, aided by my wife and our daughter, in Beverley, St James and Old Malden Wards.
Having been fortunate enough to be elected for Beverley Ward in May 2010, I have been reflecting on my period as a Councillor. I remember the initial enthusiasm and the naive belief that one could truly make a difference. And then the reality of dealing with a system that seems to exist solely to ensure that any change can only be slow. Of course there are pluses to being a Councillor but the satisfaction has to come from small victories or problem solutions – what makes them worthwhile is their importance to the people we represent.
Outside of the Ward scene, my first 3 years as a Councillor were spent Chairing the Audit Committee: I am please to look back and say that I was responsible for supporting the Anti-Fraud officers in introducing a no-tolerance policy regarding the misuse of Blue Badge Parking Permits. I have served since 2011 as Vice-Chair of the Licensing Committee, being involved in the introduction of the Cumulative Impact Zone in Kingston and have sought to ensure that good new businesses have been allowed into the night-time economy, while protecting the interests of the residents.
In July 2013, I stepped down from Audit having been elected as Lead Member responsible for Adult Services. This role has been a wonderful challenge, affecting as it does a broad spectrum of people throughout the borough. The opportunity to positively impact the lives of many of the Borough’s most vulnerable, those residents needing and deserving the greatest level of assistance and understanding has been and remains a privilege to which I had never hoped to aspire.
So, with the benefit of hindsight, is being a Councillor satisfying? I have to answer “Yes”. Would I do it again? If you elect me to a further term at the polls this May, I will be honoured to serve the community again to the best of my abilities.