We are pleased to bring you the first in what will be a regular feature. A week in the life of a new councillor, will hopefully give us an insight into the way a Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor juggles their civic duty with their everyday lives.
This week we hear from the newly elected Conservative Councillor for the ward of Meir Park & Sandon, Abi Brown.
I don’t think it was my imagination, but a quiet murmur went round the room when I entered my first induction session as a new City councillor. The “ËœMissing Councillor’ had arrived. My notoriety spreads, though as I assured my new colleagues, I wouldn’t have gone quietly!
The “ËœMissing Councillor’ story began as I was the only new member not to have signed their Declaration on Monday, as I had family commitments. Suddenly landed with a never ending pile of paperwork and a long list of meetings, seminars and training sessions, it’s easy to see how the Council could take over your life, however as we were reminded, we need to have lives too. And for me, life revolves around my husband and 4 year old son.
I’ve been involved in politics since my late teens, so my family are quite used to the demands that activism makes, however I think being a councillor is going to take a bit of getting used to. The paper trail around the house that came with the general and local elections has ended, only to be replaced with a new one. There has been a trickle of Council post all week, topped by a big bundle collected from the pigeon holes on Friday, with just a little bit more arriving Saturday morning for good measure. I’d like to think this deluge is all because a) there is a lot for new councillors to know, and b) we don’t all yet have Council email up and running, so paper copies are being provided of everything. There is another option, that councillors just receive loads of paperwork every week… I will keep you informed.
Being called “Ëœcouncillor’ is also something that will take a bit of getting used to. I’m plain Abi to everyone normally and to be honest, I am more used to calling others “Ëœcouncillor’ having worked for several years in local government myself. My son is just at the stage of realising that I have a name other than “Ëœmummy’, and having just grasped that my name is Abi to other grown-ups, this should totally confuse him again!
I finished the week attending my first Residents Association meeting, which was quite nice if a bit daunting. Luckily, my fellow ward councillor Clive Brian was there to ease me into the process and happily we came out of it with a few issues for me to cut my teeth on. My diary has also started to fill up, local meetings with strange acronyms, community events, and requests to meet with people ““ we haven’t even been allocated Council committees or outside bodies yet! Being self employed, I am pretty good at time management, but adding Council duties into that will be interesting ““ though I’ve always loved a challenge!