Just sent this letter into the local papers.
May I first of all thank the people of Gorrell for choosing me as one of their team of three District Councillors alongside Ashley Clark and Brian Baker. It is a genuine honour to serve the ward on the CCC and a truly daunting prospect!
The hustle and bustle of political life, with its committees and constant negotiations, is familiar to me from my work as a trade union officer for some 25 years. I’m also comfortable with accountability to those who have elected me, however they chose to vote. To me there’s no point in the role without it.
Since the election I’ve been thinking about how to make that accountability real in different contexts and formats. For those who like to tweet, I’m @bernadettefis11. I’m also planning a blog and will tweet when I’ve set it up.
I’m working on a list of groups and organisations to go and listen and speak to so please get in touch. As an example I’m involved in the campaign to keep the Oval (seaward of the Tile Warehouse) a public open space (contact the Oval Preservation Society) which is something I and the Labour Party were alerting people to before the election. This is not about so-called NIMBYISM but the fact that what we need is more affordable housing – more than half the people in the district can’t afford to buy their own home and it’s toughest in Whitstable. It’s also about proper control and use of our shared assets – green space, the beach, our streets, the harbour and essential services in the town like the library, the job-centre and the post-office.
On the economy and as a member of the Council’s new Regeneration and Property Committee, I’m committed to high quality local employment. I want to broaden the reach of the living wage as a pay minimum in Whitstable and the whole district so that people earn enough to live on – not too much to ask is it? We have been campaigning on this through our local Stop the Cuts group and the Labour Party. I’m also testing an idea from New Zealand whereby schools adopt a Councillor as a resource. Watch this space to find out more.
I read a lot of justifiable complaints from people in this paper, my mailbox and on social media about Canterbury City Council. I’m just one councillor amongst 39 (go to canterbury.gov.uk to see the detail) but I know that anyone who’s been elected or works for the Council has a sense of serving the people of the district in genuine ways as well as respecting the political history and structures that have evolved over the centuries. Why not come along and see what goes on at meetings like the WAMP (Whitstable Area Members’ Panel) or one of the committees that meet at the Guildhall? You can find all the detail on the CCC website and via the mod.gov app.
In the meantime I’ll be standing with Labour Party colleagues outside Barclays on Saturday June 13th from 9 to 11am so do come and say hello. I’ll be starting monthly street surgeries on Saturday afternoons – details on my blog or through your door. You can also contact me via email at [email protected]
Councillor Bernadette Fisher.