Within days of being elected, I was given papers to sign and a briefing from council officers. I also received a copy of the council’s constitution and a pack of reports (235 pages) for a full meeting of all councillors, which was held on the Tuesday after the by-election.
Amongst items considered at the full council meeting was a proposal to borrow money to invest in developing ‘a new high quality mid-market hotel at Firepool’, which I voted against but saw the motion carried by the Conservative majority.
Since, I have attended further meetings and briefings, including on the council merger and staff transformation programme, new National Planning Policy Framework and a scrutiny meeting, which considered the process for small grants awarded to community groups.
Locally, I have been asked to assist people with a number of problems, including on waste collections, council house repairs and planning matters. It has been rewarding to be able to help where I can and I have found Council officers mostly very helpful and welcoming.
I work with the ward’s other borough councillor, Eddie Gaines, and have joined the independent group on the council, which has given me a seat on the Community Scrutiny Committee.
I will continue to support the campaigns to save Wiveliscombe library and reverse bus cuts, which are county council responsibilities.
As a borough councillor, I will speak up for the interests of Wiveliscombe and West Deane, as well as what I see best for Taunton Deane as a whole. I will also be looking for opportunities, including by working with others, to introduce more green thinking, that looks after people and our planet, into council policies and strategies.
However, over the next year, it is clear that a lot of our time will be taken up preparing for the merger between Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils from May 2019.