Karen Bruce experience/passion/vision/grit
I love Rothwell. For more than 30 years I’ve lived in Rothwell and nearby villages.
I love it here. I live with my husband and now teenage daughter in Carlton. From 2011 to 2019 I served our community as a Labour councillor representing local people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.
I get knocked down. But I get up again. I loved being your local councillor for eight years and was devastated to lose in 2019. Not for me, but for all the people I couldn’t help and all the local services I couldn’t protect any more.
I was right to be worried as our Liberal Democrat councillors have failed to stand up for local people, so services have been lost. It’s not surprising that being relentlessly negative and talking our area down to criticise the council doesn’t work.
In Rothwell there are three serious contenders to be your local councillor – myself for Labour and candidates from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Whoever wins they will have an incredibly hard job as the council’s budget has been slashed in half since 2010. Most of the cuts were under the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.
That’s why my experience as a councillor, knowledge of how the council works and relationships with senior councillors and council officers is so important.
If you vote for me, I will hit the ground running. The council is complicated and the cuts mean there simply isn’t time to learn on the job as while a councillor is learning how to do it we will lose vital local services.
When I was a councillor, I worked with the community to save our fire station (and build a new one!), to keep Windmill youth club open and save Dolphin Manor. Thanks to more government cuts and the failure of our local councillors some of our services are again under threat.
We have a Labour run council and none of our councillors (who are all Liberal Democrat) talk to them sensibly to ensure we get a fair deal. We need rational conversations not political shouting on social media and leaflets.
Post-pandemic we need to get Rothwell back on its feet. I‘m excited to get started on my idea for full pedestrianisation of Commercial Street, including outdoor street dining and a new produce and craft market to revitalise and bring in trade to support local shops. Local people want hybrid working so I want to see co-working places in places like the old council offices. I’m determined that local young people get the new school building they deserve at Royds. As a Mum at a local school I experience the same challenges as you and will never stop fighting for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.
Why do you want to stand as a councillor again?
I first stood to be a councillor as I love Rothwell and wanted to give back to the community. I didn’t stop working for local people when I lost my seat, but I’m frustrated I can’t achieve as much as when I was a councillor. I still get people contacting me for help with everything from finding a local home to potholes, parks and planning.
It’s frustrating to see the Liberal Democrats squander so many opportunities by playing political games rather than working with the council to help local people and save services.
I’m excited about the opportunity to put into action the ideas for improving our community.
What qualifies you to be a councillor?
Recovery after Covid-19 will be hard. It’s urgent we start working now. There is no time to spend a year learning how to be a councillor when people need help today. I know how the council works. i will hit the ground running and talk to senior councillors and directors with realistic ideas for our community.
When I was a councillor I was able to save our fire station, Dolphin Manor care home and Windmill youth club. Because of the failure of our local Liberal Democrat councillors we see services like WIndmill and Home Lea care home under threat again.
What do you think are the most important local issues?
Commercial Street should be thriving. I want it pedestrianised with a regular craft and produce market. our old council offices could be a coworking hub for people who don’t want to travel to an office, but don’t want to be stuck at home all day. We need better footpaths and cycleways, alongside cheap, reliable public transport. We need local jobs. We need affordable homes, while protecting our fields from developers. I want to see Royds school rebuilt urgently.
Why is it better to have a Labour councillor rather than a Liberal Democrat?
We already have two Liberal Democrat councillors who will still be there after this election. This is a chance to also have a Labour councillor rather than another Liberal Democrat. We’ve seen over the last two years what happens if councillors refuse to work with the council leadership to get the best deal. Everywhere in Leeds is suffering because of government cuts, but we don’t get a say because our Liberal Democrat councillors just blame the council instead of doing anything about it. Rothwell suffers as we only have Liberal Democrat councillors and they are too small a party to make a difference.