I often hear myself saying 'If only people knew how much a councillor has to do'. The reason is easy to guess - I'm not sure and do not believe that most are either interested or understand the full scope of the role of a county or borough councillor and even though some do, many tend to think it's our day job. It isn't -especially for those of us who are not retired yet.
Just to give a flavour of the variety and scope of the average hard working councillor's load, I thought I'd give an insight into my last month, as this is a pretty accurate reflection of the average load but by no means totally comprehensive.
Of course the bits I'm missing out are the various clients I see under my business as a trainer and coach, the marketing of that business and the networking meetings I attend in which to profile my work. Nor does it include Wednesdays when I look after my grandson and often pick up my grand-daughters from school, nor does it include my weekly visit to my mum, going shopping or preparing a meal every night. Then there's football - I go to all ITFC home games - and other social activities.
Note the things that are the most important!
So in the last week, I have taken up 4 new pieces of casework requiring contacting the relevant parties and pushing for a resolution - pretty much average for a week.This also entails chasing up on-going issues that have yet to be resolved.
I have followed up on all comments and help that was requested while canvassing in Stoke Park recently - many have been about trees and potholes and I have also used the SCC online web facility for reporting highway problems - I have found this to be quite efficient and residents have concurred on this recently.. Easy to find if you google.
I have helped a resident with an appeal, worked through all the paperwork and attended court to speak on his behalf - with a successful quasi conclusion.
I have helped and supported a father who has not seen his daughter for 4 years and is fighting bravely for her return.
I have taken paperwork into the benefits centre for it to be scanned and then returned the originals to the owner.
Several meetings have taken place - one to work on the IBC constitution - not my usual arena, but one that is not uninteresting. I still find licensing the most rewarding of all the committees and very varied.
I have read executive papers - scanned some, read others in more detail - and attended Conservative group meetings to discuss holding Labour administration to account on policies we do not agree on and to discuss own policies. I would actually attend the exec meetings but because the members hardly say a word, instead just passing the papers through in record time, there is no more benefit in attending than there is just reading the papers. I refuse to waste my time in this way.
I have written a letter to Babergh district council regarding the proposed wind turbine at Pannington Hall, on behalf of my residents
I attended the SW area committee which I suspect is one of the better ones, as it is very well chaired and has more than a handful of residents attending - but I would still like to see more.
I attended Chinese New year at the Wolsey which turned out to be a great night, even though I went under a duty banner, I came away appreciating that I was invited along and the beautiful talent that was on show - a real gem..
I have canvassed in other wards, delivered leaflets for Ben Gummer and kept myself up to date with most of the global issues, as well as local. I've never felt more grateful for being able to go back to a nice dry house as I do at the moment. Some of the issues are minor in comparison to the floods but, nevertheless, have to be dealt with.
I tweet every day with items that I think will either interest my residents or my followers, who are from all over the world. I no longer go to news channels for the latest. My twitter line will pretty much tell me what's going on all worldwide, within a couple of minutes. This is my favourite social media tool and I highly recommend it if you're passionate about any particular subject matter - you can follow those with the same interest etc and I think it's a great way of communicating with people that would normally be out of our reach. I follow various blogs too, locally and nationally.
And I put together my own leaflet called Nadia's News and deliver it alongside colleagues and helpers.
Oh, and I've been to 10 Downing street to meet the Prime Minister - have I told you that?!
Now I have something to ask of you - please contact me if you see anything in Stoke Park that is of concern. Follow me on twitter @stokeparkcllr if you tweet and most of all, please don't make any assumptions about how we can help. If I'm not the right person, I will point you in the right direction.