Opinion: What does your councillor do for you?

What sort of councillor represents you?, asks Labour Group leader Dennis JonesWhat sort of councillor represents you?, asks Labour Group leader Dennis Jones
What sort of councillor represents you?, asks Labour Group leader Dennis Jones
A former council leader once stopped me and said: “Dennis, a third of the councillors get involved in the life of the council and the city. A third make good ward councillors. And a third do nothing”, writes Labour Group leader Dennis Jones.

​Locally, the officers and directors working for Peterborough City Council have seen all the above categories over many years. We councillors cannot fool them.

Next May, you, the voting public, will be called upon to make judgement on those wishing to represent your ward. Whatever your political preferences, you can decide which of the above categories is your council candidate in.

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As the new municipal year gets underway, members start the training for the various committees we have agreed to serve on. The committees are either regulatory, such as planning, licensing, and corporate parenting where we make decisions on behalf of others, or scrutiny, when we work together to literally to look in detail at the decisions made and their implications for all of us.

In my view, politics is an opinion business. Everyone has, and is entitled to, their opinion, of course. You have your views as electors. We express our views in committees or in the chamber at full council. But and this is my opinion (well, one of them), we should not be judged solely by what we say. We must surely be judged, quite rightly, by what we do, for not only our residents but also our fellow councillors, officers, directors, and every member of the public that has expectations of us.

The Labour Group start planning our next election campaign in June. With a good campaign, good candidates in place working their wards, I believe there is every chance that we can make serious inroads into the Conservative majority in May next year. Yes, that is how serious we are! What that means is that our current crop of councillors is already being scrutinised and regulated so it is vital that they are viewed as good, committed, councillors who attend training provided, attend the committee meetings they are selected to serve upon whilst supporting their fellow members to provide cover for the inevitable absences brought about by holidays, sickness, and family crises we all face.

Personally, I view being a councillor as an honour and a privilege. I wasn’t born in Peterborough so don’t have a network of family or friends to call upon to get me elected. I hope that the people of Dogsthorpe continue to recognise that I love my ward and the work I do and remain willing to go the extra mile – even though less than one in three people choose to vote at all. Electors put their trust in us to get ‘stuff’ done and that is what we will always try to do. I am proud of my relationship with colleagues, not only those in my party and the officers but also my political adversaries. I am especially pleased that my fellow Labour councillors are getting involved so they can be part of the life of the council and the city.

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Next year will be a significant election where we will pass judgement on those seeking election. It will also be the time for you to decide which of those categories above they fit into. Time to look at what your councillors are doing for you. Time to ask questions of us and who we represent. You pay our allowances, so you are entitled to make sure none of us falls into that third category. That’s my opinion. What’s yours?