Is a question I’ve been asked a lot since May, four months later & I’m still not really sure how to answer it.
My standard reply is “It’s ok” which then means the next question is “Don’t you like it then?”
Which wasn’t what I meant at all. I love it. I really do. But it’s been a steep learning curve and sometimes it’s hard to get my head round it all.
It’s busy and it’s interesting, especially finding out how the council actually works. You hear a lot of criticism of local Councillors, I think if more people actually knew what we do, they wouldn’t be so quick to criticise. We’re not perfect, but we do our best and we actually work quite hard at doing that.
Taking September as an example; I have scheduled 2 Panel Meetings, 4 Parish Council Meetings, 2 Drainage Board Meetings, Conservative Group Meeting and of course, Full Council. Plus 2 full days (9am to 4pm) of training. So that’s 10 meetings & 2 full days. Given that meetings can sometimes have agenda’s of several hundred pages in length, that need to be read through properly, not just scanned, it is quite a commitment and can be a bit daunting.
Not that I begrudge the time spent in any way, although I suspect my family might on occasion!
Meetings tend to be during the day, which works out well with school hours, or during the evening when Mike can have the kids, so most of the time working round childcare is easy. Except for the school holidays and even then, there weren’t many meetings in August, so it suited me perfectly!
I enjoy my new role, whether I’m “making a difference” remains to be seen, but I’m still learning and I tend to want to know how things work before I try to fix them! I don’t always agree with everything the council does, but that’s democracy in action I suppose. Some you win, some you lose. Generally I think we do a pretty good job, in occasionally difficult circumstances. Every member really does have the best interests of West Norfolk at heart, even though it doesn’t always seem that way when people don’t agree with our decisions. There are rules, regulations and legislation that must be adhered to, everything we do is strictly regulated.
I received my first email from a ward resident this week, which was quite exciting! It was nice to be able to listen to their concerns and be able to bring them forward to the right people. (Might be some use yet!)
There are 62 Councillors and for the most part they’re a friendly, helpful bunch. Sometimes it’s hard to remember who is who though! The drinks machine in the Committee Suite isn’t great (no green tea?) and I sometimes still feel like the little girl pretending to be a politician. But it’s only been four months, four months of learning and reading. Sooner or later they’ll find out how I came to earn a reputation for being the gobby one!
Truth is, they’ve not been breaking me in gently, it’s the other way around! 😉