What are the biggest changes in your ward over the last 5 years?
The council has had to struggle to deliver an increasing demand for services against the background of a substantial reduction in resources (including, of course, staff reductions). This has inevitably had an impact on our ward, along with every other part of the city. Essential services have to be maintained and the most vulnerable prioritised. The steadily increasing demand for adult social care, for example, may be less visible than the need for street cleansing and road maintenance, but it is has to be a high priority for any councillor.
Describe three achievements that you were instrumental in implementing and that benefited the community.
As a councillor one obviously aims to be a strong advocate for one’s ward, but one also has wider responsibilities to the city as a whole. A great deal of valuable and effective work is undertaken via committee work and lobbying. This is done on a cross-ward and often cross-party basis. Personally, I have devoted a good deal of my time and energy to trying to improve the position of Looked After Children (we have over 600 children in public care in the city) and care leavers. Over the last few years I have served as Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel, Vice-Chair of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee and as a member of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee. I am pleased that we have established a dedicated team to serve these vulnerable young people, raised the level of the Leaving Care grant, improved links with education, ehnanced access to stable accommodation and created an apprenticeship scheme within the council. There is much more work to be done, of course, but the direction of travel is promising.
I have been fortunate to represent a ward with three other colleagues from Welsh Labour. This has meant that we have been able to work as a team. This has made it easier to get things done: whether that be introducing No Cold Calling Zones on Hollybush Estate and in the entire village of Tongwynlais, or tackling some of the parking problems in Whitchurch (establishing parallel parking on Merthyr Road and the new car park arrangements that benefit local shoppers and businesses). The main benefit of teamwork is that we have been able to establish a consistently high standard of responsive casework for our constituents. In addition to individual appointments and home visits, we have run regular drop-in surgeries in different locations in Whitchurch and Tongwynlais. By the end of our term we will have completed 240 such surgeries. We obviously haven’t been able to solve everyone’s problems, but we have had a high success rate and done our utmost to serve our constituents.
I believe I have been fortunate to serve Whitchurch and Tongwynlais. The people of the two villages quite rightly expect a high level of service from their councillors. Equally, though, the people are keen to self-organise and work in partnership with their councillors on community issues. I have enjoyed working with numerous local community groups, Tongwynlais Community councillors and campaigns (e.g., the successful Whitchurch Post Office campaign). When the funding for Whitchurch Library was briefly questioned, we as Welsh Labour ward councillors lobbied persuasively within the Labour Group, made representations to Cabinet members and spoke in the council chamber. Crucially, though, we worked with local people in a politically inclusive way in a campaign that proved to be successful. We have since been involved in working with AWEN, a community group committed to protecting and enhancing the future of the library. The lesson is that when councillors work closely with local people, great things can be achieved; even in difficult times.