Achieving your goals as a political minority is never an easy task, but as Randolph Conteh proves hard work can go a long way. Luke Powell spoke to the City Independent councillor about how he makes his voice heard
As a City Independent councillor for the last ten years, 52-year-old Randolph ( Randy ) Conteh’s has made a number of significant changes to the Penkhull ward he represents.
His biggest achievements, by his own reckoning, have been the transformation of the local Penkhull parks, where through various public consultation meetings – set up by Councillor Conteh – there has been a huge improvement to the area.
As a ward councillor Councillor Conteh believes it’s important to dedicate as much time as possible to the role, and something that he feels cannot be achieved while balancing another job.
I see myself as a full-time councillor, which gives me the time and capacity to do more.
It gives me the time to sit on more committees, attend more meetings and do more local work.
When you’re a full-time councillor, you haven’t got time to be an employee elsewhere.
So I beg to differ that those who have got fulltime jobs, have the time to do council work.
Some obviously manage to, but I think it should one or the other in a sense.
Councillor Conteh’s hard working attitude stems from the time when he was working down in the pits. It wasn’t until he was made redundant that he decided to transfer his tenacious attitude to helping the public.
The reason why I entered local politics was because I had been made redundant from my previous job working in the pits. After being unemployed I decided to get into voluntary work and really enjoyed it. When you do things for other people for no financial reward, it’s rewarding in itself, and although I enjoyed it, I knew that if I got myself elected as a Stoke-on-Trent City councillor, I could do more.
In 2002, following a successful campaign, Councillor Conteh was elected as a councillor for a two year period.
Within those two years, from a local perspective, I was running around at 200mph.
I was fresh and I was young, and I got reelected because of all the work I had done.
Since being elected, the number of City Independents within the council has changed dramatically over the years. Currently, there are just seven independents, along with another, Councillor Paul Breeze, who has no affiliation to any group.
Despite being in a largely Labour-dominated council, Councillor Conteh believes that it’s not difficult to get your voice heard.
Because of the mediums we have available to us, I’m able to get my voice heard through various campaigns.
I’m also a firm believer in the petition process, as I strongly believe it is a good form of empowerment, especially for the local people.
Despite a successful ten years as a ward councillor, 2012 has been a particular challenge for him.
In December last year, he was admitted to hospital to treat a brain aneurism.
I’ve only just returned back to health, having been out of action for a while, but now I’m back at work.
After ten years in local politics, Councillor Conteh is hopeful that more people will get involved, but believes they should be aware of the sacrifices they will have to make.
My advice to any new potential candidates is, when you put your name forward and you are successful, please make sure youhave enough time on your hands to actually do the job that you were elected to do.
I do think more people should be getting involved, but they need to be aware it’s actually a lot harder than most people think.