So what does a typical day in my life as a councillor look like? Busy!
By 9am on any morning I will have read all the emails that have come into my email accounts overnight; read the new relevant posts on social media; checked out Twitter for new posts & current news, commenting as I go; listened to any phone messages that have been left since the previous evening & scheduled in call-backs; checked the diary & sorted the priorities for the day.
Of one thing I can be absolutely sure: that however well I have planned my day, it will invariably change as the day progresses. The huge range of issues that affect residents within Heath & Birchgrove which will cross my path during the course of a day is astonishing, and needs me to jump from issue to issue in the space of minutes; and I shall be responding to them all day as I go. I’m prepared for anything: a school admission refusal; uncollected bins; a parking problem; a planning application; a new transport project; a request for help from a local organisation; or it may be a vulnerable individual who needs significant support while services are identified to help them. There will never be a ‘groundhog’ day; every day will be different & I thrive on that. And I’m reachable for over 14 hours a day!
For me, being out & about in the Ward every day is essential to understanding what’s happening & allows time for meeting residents & catching up on their news or problems. A cup of coffee at a local café can be a lengthy affair – depending upon how many residents are doing the same thing & want to chat!
Being pro-active & keeping residents informed of what is happening in Heath & Birchgrove is essential to me as a councillor. Writing leaflets, street letters, posting on social media, & updating my website all take time but as an Independent, I stand on a platform of putting people before politics – and that means listening to residents’ views.
A day will rarely pass without needing to fulfil the other roles that come as part of the councillor ‘package’. Being Chair of Governors at my local school is an honour but also a big responsibility, requiring hours of work or attendance at the school every week. Preparing for Full Council; attending meetings such as PACT or Planning Committee; arranging local resident meetings; meeting & speaking with journalists ; & mentoring potential councillor candidates, are just some of my daily activities and all require preparation.
Do I ever switch off as a councillor? No, not really. In these days of being able to contact your councillor at any time of day (or night!) there is always something to work on. This is the role that I chose, and I am thankful that I don’t have the additional burden of full or part-time employment. It’s a big role, and certainly not a job for the faint-hearted!
Cllr Fenella Bowden
Heath & Birchgrove
We invited all Cardiff North Councillors to submit an article for this series during Local Democracy Week.