As the Elections approach Effingham Residents Association website editor invited local candidates to say a few words about themselves and the issues. Here is the response from:
Lib Dem Group Leader Caroline Reeves
This election seems very different to others I have experienced. It’s always difficult to get people to understand the difference between parliamentary, county and local elections, but this time round many people appear to be ‘turned off’ politics completely. Either that or they are extremely wound up about specific local issues and have no problem in explaining how they feel! So life on the doorstep is more challenging than usual.
I have to say I don’t really enjoy elections. Personally I don’t feel I have the right to ask people how they may vote, it’s a private matter, and sometimes I know that people say exactly the same to everyone who knocks on their door! The key to getting votes is the work that councillors have done for their residents in the past term, or for new candidates to have a clear knowledge of what the others in their group have achieved.
As I don’t have a car I walk through my ward on my way to Millmead most days but of course canvassing has advantages, you get to walk around the whole of your ward, picking up case work from residents on the way, and see first hand some of the problems that town centre residents so often have issues with… parking, potholes (not a GBC issue!), wheelie bins, parking, street litter, empty homes, empty shops… and parking again.
Winning candidate Colin Cross (centre) surrounded by Lib Dem campaign supporters including, next to him, Caroline Reeves the Lib Dem group leader at Millmead.
Because as a group we all keep in touch with residents on a very regular basis we have good knowledge of their concerns. It’s extremely frustrating that it often takes a long time to get solutions in place, even though everyone knows what should be done, the consultation process needed often seems to take forever – but that’s democracy!
Of course the big issue for many people is the draft Local Plan published last year. As a group we worked very hard to make sure that we spoke to as many of our residents in all our wards about the implications for them, and for residents across the borough. We have made it very clear that any future iteration of the plan must be dealt with very differently, and must start with local consultation with residents and their councillors instead of imposing ill thought-out ideas which create anger and angst. We were very pleased that such a large number of responses were received and this has given strength to the massive amount of work now being done on infrastructure to provide evidence to either support or dismiss sites. However, we must not cause endless delays, we must be in control of planning decisions on where housing goes and not be at the whim of the planning inspectorate. Of course Effingham’s Neighbourhood Plan is the perfect example of the best way for a community to do this, and we are very pleased that Liz Hogger (pictured below)is working hard with the Parish Council on this.
We have a group of very energetic councillors all committed to working for their own residents. We all have different styles, different family commitments and different interests, but as a group we function very well as champions of our communities.