What is it like when you have just been elected as a councillor? Catherine Glynn-Davies on making sense of being your Councillor for Broadwater in June, 2021
Thank you for electing me. People keep congratulating me; it is a little like winning the Lottery, although nobody’s invited me to go out and spend yet!
I am on a huge learning curve and, since becoming your Borough Councillor for Broadwater, I’ve learned a lot about how things work and how to achieve things for my community.
An encampment of travellers at Lyons Farm Park has occupied a lot of our time. Cllr Dawn Smith has been tireless in her attention to the issues surrounding the welfare of all involved and ensured the prompt attention of WSCC. Unfortunately, a backlog of court cases caused delay. Thankfully, this has now been resolved.
I’ve now attended two consultations, delivered by West Sussex County Council, on their proposal for services for children and families. I explained during the campaign that the new model WSCC are proposing will involve the closure of most of our existing Children and Family Centres, and that this will include The Wave in Dominion Road. The proposals claim that new services will be more ‘targeted’ and improve support to those most in need, but they failed to convince me that this will work in practice. By the time children get to Early Years at local schools, interventions will be several years too late, and that was the opinion of several professionals I’ve consulted on the matter. We continue, as a Labour Group, to oppose the closure of The Wave, and other important hubs such as the Maybridge Centre in Durrington. I will keep you updated on this, and in Cllr Dawn Smith, your elected representative to County, you have a strong voice where it matters.
I’ve attended three lots of training, for Planning, for Licensing, and for Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees. I’ve also been awarded the Shadow Portfolios for Culture and Digital and, along with my colleague Cllr Dawn Smith, I’m looking forward to discovering from you, my community, what your priorities are in these two areas.
Planning training has taught me that opposition to any development must come from the community. If I sit on a committee, I must listen without prejudice. My job as your councillor is to help you find your voice if you have concerns. I am more than happy to support you to do this.
Licensing training has been enlightening. Like so many councillors before me, I was surprised at how restricted we are in terms of conditions of Licensing, which are governed by the legislator. We have little power to oppose on behalf of local residents and businesses. We should empower you, our community to make your own representations. That will be my goal!
Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee is there to take a long hard look at decisions that are made on your behalf. A second lot of training, in analytical and questioning techniques, should equip me to keep an eye on process and decisions, as well as ensuring that you, as taxpayers, get value for money.
Cllr Dawn Smith and I will be looking closely at plans for managing our town’s access to the internet. This is likely to include the introduction of 5G digital broadband, proposals for town centre free broadband provision and digital inclusion. Some people cannot afford the cost of broadband, and lockdown has taught us the importance of using it to manage home learning, work from home and keep in touch with loved ones. We will be looking at Library provision, schools and colleges, and the availability of tablets and laptops for learners. Cllr Margaret Howard is already managing donations of equipment and working in Broadwater to ensure that children have access to online learning.
Culture and the Arts have suffered hugely during the pandemic, and I for one have missed being able to go to see a film, book a theatre performance and enjoy live music. Worthing is full of possibilities when it comes to the Arts, and I would love to hear from you as to how we can expand this. What do you want to see and where? The Worthing Festival?
Watch this space!