Many people don’t know very much about what a councillor actually does, so I thought it would be useful to share a day in the life of a Rothwell councillor.
My day started with a coffee and a quick check of email, Facebook and Twitter to see if anything had cropped up overnight that might need my urgent attention that day. After that it was breakfast and getting my daughter ready for school.
Then the day started in earnest with a morning spent sorting out issues for local people who’ve contacted me by phone, email, Twitter, Facebook or attending my councillor’s surgery at Brew Tea Rooms or Morrisons. These tend to split into two sorts of case work. First there are the individual issues such as helping people with housing problems or social services and generally picking up on things where people are unhappy about the services they’ve received from the council. Secondly there are the issues that people raise with me that are applicable to the wider community such as road safety, street cleaning, parks and playgrounds, cars on Rothwell Commercial Street etc.
But in reality there is no predicting what issues will be raised as people come to you with all sorts of things. Some are things that I can sort easily (such as getting the drain on John O’Gaunts fixed). Others that are more challenging such as housing where much as I want to help it is hard as there simply isn’t enough affordable and social housing and policies like the Conservative/Lib Dem bedroom tax make it even worse. Often people will come to you with issues that really aren’t things that a councillor can help with.
I also made time to write a blog post and update Twitter and Facebook to make sure people knew about the latest on the lack of progress in building new homes on the site of the old Rothwell primary school (I updated people on the new Rothwell fire station on Tuesday).
Before heading out for an afternoon and evening of meetings I just had time to record a video message for my daughter so Stuart could play it to her as I wouldn’t be back from my meetings before she went to bed.
In the afternoon, I chaired the outer south area environmental committee (which includes Rothwell, Ardsley & Robin Hood, Morley North and Morley South) where issues discussed included updates on various parks projects and how the fortnightly bin collections are working on the ground. We also discussed food waste collection, which was rolled out to include the whole of the Rothwell ward last year so now includes Carlton. It is proving very popular with local residents, despite our local Liberal Democrat councillor moaning about it. We also discussed how improvements can be made to local street cleaning, dog fouling and fly tipping. It was a good meeting and I was there as Rothwell councillor representative and the other councillor who was present was Cllr Karen Renshaw representing neighbouring Ardsley and Robin Hood ward.
I then went with ward colleague Cllr David Nagle to visit two long standing Rothwell Labour party members who are old friends. The visit was long overdue and it was good to see old friends who although suffering through illness, looked really well, it was lovely to see them.
Then David and I went on to the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association meeting which was reasonably well attended with lots of familiar faces along with a few new ones which is nice to see. The meeting was chaired by vice chair Angela Kellett, as our chair Ronnie Hammill is unwell. Get well soon Ronnie!
The meeting started with a report and discussion on PACT – Police and Communities Together. Sergeant Paul Dennison from Rothwell neighbourhood police team talked about local crimes and stressed how although there is some crime, it feels like a very safe place to live in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton compared to other areas. He also explained to the residents present about the changes taking place within the police, which as a result of cuts to the police budget, will see a new Neighbourhood Policing Team which includes all of Outer South Leeds which also takes in Morley. As one older resident pointed out, Rothwell is going back in with Morley like it used to be. Rothwell police station will be kept open with staff still working out of there.
We then went on to the councillors’ part of the meeting where there were a lot of issues raised, some individual and more which affect the community. I came away from the meeting with lots of casework to take up on many different topics, but the most popular subject and in various locations, was trees, shrubs and bushes which are encroaching in some way.
And finally at about 9:00pm I got home for dinner.
And now it all starts again as I’ve got to get on with sorting out the caseload from last night! Luckily today I don’t have any meetings, but there is lots of case work, phone calls and emails to do today as I’ve got several meetings tomorrow.