My first month as a councillor has been full of questions; both those which I have asked and been asked. This first article for Dorset Eye attempts to answer some of those which I have been asked by supporters and residents.
Did you expect to win a seat?
No. Taking one of the three available seats for Winton East initially left me speechless. When the election officer read the preliminary tally all I managed to say was ‘Wow’ as friends and supporters cheered loudly from across the hall.
With a difference of nine votes, the Conservatives, quite understandably, requested a recount. On Monday morning, after a very long weekend, the gap of nine became fourteen. Signing the Declaration of Office really brought it home to me; Bournemouth Borough Council had its first ever Green Party Councillor.
So, what have you been doing since?
The last few weeks have been filled with training to prepare me for the next four years, meeting with council officers, fellow councillors and residents. I’ve been allocated positions on a number of panel and boards including the Corporate Parenting Panel and the Appeals Board so I have lots to learn. Local residents have contacted me with their concerns including dangerous parking, an obscured road sign and concern about a Holm Oak tree. In each case I have been able to contact the resident and help resolve the issue.
You are the only Green in a very blue council. Is that difficult?
I find myself as one of three minority parties in the council with an independent and a UKIP making up the other two. Labour and the Liberal Democrats lost all their seats and the remaining 51 seats are all Tory. It is far from being representative of the community which the council serves. This means that is very difficult to effectively challenge and change policies that the main party is set on especially with the undemocratic whip system in place.
You are also a Humanist Funeral Celebrant. What does that mean?
Many people do not want a religious ceremony. Humanists believe we have, or probably have, only one life and should make the most of it helping others where we can. I conduct non-religious and humanist funeral ceremonies with appropriate readings and tributes.
How Green are you? Do you recycle? Are you vegetarian?
At the moment my wife and I are recycling milk containers and helping my son to make a plastic igloo. I’m not vegetarian and although many Green members are, it is not a prerequisite for joining the Green Party. I also support renewable forms of energy and I am likely to be one of the few councillors supporting the Navitus Bay project. I would urge others who want cleaner energy to sign the petition at tinyurl.com/navitusbay