Just to say a huge thank you to everyone in Rothwell for your support which has enabled me to make such a difference in our community in the eight years I’ve served as your councillor. I put my heart and soul into serving Rothwell, but couldn’t have done it without the unstinting passion of those who give up their time to work week in week out in our communities of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.
It was a real challenge being up for election again just a year after being re-elected. Normally when a councillor is elected it is for a four year term. I was also now the sole Labour councillor, but I was more than up for the challenge and ready to stand again on my record of standing up for our local people.
But a lot of the electorate decided this election was about Brexit even though it was a local election which should be about local issues. Those of us who were out on the doorstep in Rothwell heard local people’s not just concern but real anger about Brexit. That anger and disappointment cost us hundreds of votes and because Rothwell is a marginal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats it also cost us the election. I don’t blame people for being angry at the mess that the Conservative government is making on Brexit and more clarity is rightly expected from Labour, even though as a councillor you don’t have a say in what happens at Westminster. We can only hope that the national mess will be resolved and then we can come back stronger.
I was gutted when the result came through. It was lovely to see the support throughout the ward though, particularly in certain areas as the boxes came in – on difficult issues that residents had stuck with us. On issues such as the Wood Lane parking issue where votes confirmed my conversations with residents who were more interested in solving the problem than in the petty blame game the Lib Dem councillors were playing. I sincerely hope that they will actually do some work to solve the problem, which they didn’t for the last 12 months.
It is all a bit unreal suddenly not being Rothwell’s councillor anymore. I have to keep reminding myself when I wake up on a morning not to go and do a surgery or not go to Civic Hall that day to discuss what needs doing in Rothwell.
Together we achieved a lot in Rothwell and whilst out and about I’m reminded of how I helped to make a difference. I feel proud when I look at our new fire station that would have been lost. When I see improvements like the new playgrounds in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park and earlier ones on Wood Lane estate and Carlton. When I see the Windmill Youth Club we saved together. Road safety improvements like the speed indicating devices crossings and 20 mph zones. The Rothwell college re-opening. And lots more we’ve done together.
The Rothwell Liberal Democrats give the Tories an easy ride, blaming the council for things the government is responsible for. Things like HS2, local people suffering through austerity, the housing crisis and relaxation of planning laws. It’s easy for them to criticise, snipe and moan because they never have to take responsibility for any of the vital services we all depend on.
I’m proud that although the council budget has been cut in half by government, services which have been axed elsewhere such as Rothwell children’s centres have been kept open. Rothwell library has not only been kept open, but has extended hours in the new community hub while libraries elsewhere have shut. We still have regular youth clubs where they’ve been axed by other councils. Because these are priorities for the Labour council.
The people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton are the best. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages of support. Your good wishes have meant so much to me. I’m sad not just for me, but far more for Rothwell not to have a Labour councillor who can work with the Labour council to get the best deal possible deal for our area. However you look at it, Lib Dems are a group of eight councillors on Leeds City Council, not important enough to be relevant or make a difference. Labour has 57 and the Conservatives have 23. Some local people have said it’s been great to have a mum like them with a school age child representing them as it’s reassuring to have someone who understood their issues better. On that note I’d like to thank my husband Stuart and our daughter, their support has been invaluable enabling me to do what I love. Also thanks to all the Rothwell Labour Party members for your support and hard work and to my agent David Miller. Thank you all again, I’ve loved working with everyone in our communities.
All I can say is even a week is a long time in politics and that’s truer now than it ever was!