The first article is by Jennifer Burke Davies, Labour Councillor for Llandaff North.
As I reminisce over my first 12 months as a Councillor, I’m struck by how quickly time moves but Local Government, does not.
Overwhelmingly, my experiences have been positive – I enjoy the wide variety of opportunities that have come my way from being involved in Committees to attending Full Council Meetings but by far, the most rewarding aspect of the role is speaking to local residents. Whether this is in surgeries or when I’m out walking the dog. I’m always happy to stop and have a chat to residents about local matters, particularly if I can be of some help!
The area where I’ve found I’ve experienced the most frustration is how so slow it can be to get a response, up to 10 working days, or how it can feel like walking through treacle to make progress on a project. I’m sure all Councillors, old and new, will share my dismay at Local Government Funding – ultimately, this comes from the UK Government and is disseminated to Councils through the Welsh Assembly Government. We have been living in a period of austerity since 2010 and councils around the UK have felt the full force of this, some facing cutting their budgets to the bone in order to maintain essential frontline services.
I’m pleased to say that our Labour run Council here in Cardiff have protected library services and continued to put record investment into our Schools but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been hard decisions, when there’s no money in the budget to work on projects that would benefit or improve the lives of Llandaff North Residents. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working with some local residents to create a Charitable Trust Fund, it would enable the community to bid for funding that would benefit the wider area and Council Officers have said that they’re supportive of working with the community to achieve the aims of their mission statement.
Rather than concentrate on what we haven’t been able to do (yet!) I’d like to come back round to talk about the positive impact I feel I’ve been able to make! We’ve had Sustrans visit Hailey Park to look at improving the Taff Trail for all users, with feedback due in April 2018. One of my particular areas of passion is to support the park area to become safe and enjoyable for everyone who wants to use it – mainly to improve Taff Trail access. I’m beginning work on a Resident’s Association for the Lydstep Area, I hosted a Great Get Together Coffee Morning in the Llandaff Hyb and raised £250 for the Jo Cox Foundation. Cllr. Ali and I are working on bringing forward a consultation to residents to address parking issues in various parts of the ward and I’ve lobbied Cllr. Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Transport, to bring some of the new NextBikes to Llandaff North, I’m looking forward to seeing them arrive! By the end of the summer holidays, we will also have not one but two brand new school buildings in the ward for Gabalfa Primary & Ysgol Glan Ceubal, with a massive £8 million of investment, this will mean quality education for both English and Welsh Mediums in our area.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my first year as a Councillor but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and achieving more in the next 4 years!
By Jennifer Burke Davies (Councillor for Llandaff North)
Photo by Ceri Davies