Have you ever wanted to challenge some of the council decisions? Have you ever thought of standing as a councillor?
Well next year you will get your chance. On 7 May, not only is there a general election to choose who represents us in Parliament, but also elections for who represents your area - in the council chambers of Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council. There will also be parish and town council elections on the same day.
You can stand either as an independent or enquire with your preferred political party about becoming one of its candidates. To become a candidate you will need 10 nominees from the ward that you seek to represent. Nomination papers will be available on the council website (www.westsuffolk.gov.uk) from late February, or by emailing email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
They must be completed and returned by 4pm on 9 April.
Cllr Stephen Edwards is Cabinet Member for Resources, Governance and Performance. He said: “Despite what people may think, being a councillor is not an easy job. For a start, it is not your personal view that you are there to put forward at a meeting, but the balance of those who put you there to represent them.
“You should be approachable – residents will need to contact you with their issues in the hope that you will resolve them. A good councillor will keep an open dialogue with their residents, feeding back on decisions that are likely to have some impact on them, gleaning their views so they can be represented in the council chamber. They will also need to be available to attend countless meetings – not just at the district council, but residents’ associations, parish councils, as well as meetings with business groups, police, housing associations and many more.
“It is a big commitment and it is not for the faint of heart – but if you are serious about giving something back to the community and getting results for your residents, then it can also be very rewarding.”
Cllr David Ray, is St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance. He was first elected 10 years ago.
He said: “As a councillor, your job is to represent all of the people in your ward, on some important decisions. It may be in speaking up on their behalf when discussing a housing development or another form of planning application. It may be in representing their views when discussing how Council Tax payers’ money should be spent, or budget savings made.
“It is a complex and challenging role. As guardians of the public purse, you will be involved in decisions that are not always hugely popular, but never-the-less have to be made. The reward is knowing that you are making a difference, providing solutions to those issues that residents need your help with, and providing them with a voice at meetings, many of which impact on their day to day lives.”