What made me get involved in the first instance, what attracted me to local government?
To be completely honest it happened by purely by chance. I lived in the heart of the student area in Southampton and we needed to get something changed in the road in which I lived. There was a retirement home on my road, which needed access for emergency vehicles which unfortunately had the need to visit the home on all too regular a basis. However people from all around often blocked the entrances, causing precious time to be lost, when the ambulance was coming to the aid of someone in need.
On what must have been the third or fourth time I saw the paramedics have to negotiate a stretcher around parked cars with a patient on board, I thought I couldn’t sit back and watch this situation happening anymore.
So I wrote to the two Labour Councillors and one Conservative representing my ward to see what they could do to help solve this problem, giving them all equal chance to respond and do something for the residents in the home and everyone that lived nearby that they purported in their literature to be working hard for.
Then I waited, and watched, very shortly afterwards the Conservative Councillor visited the road, he saw first hand the issue I’d described and sought to help resolve it. I lived in the house for two years and at no point did I receive even an acknowledgement of having received my letter from the Labour Councillors.
It was this situation that made me realise that not everyone was as fortunate, or stubborn as I was, in being able to get something changed. So I decided to put myself forward for election, to be able to help those people who perhaps didn’t know where to go or what could be done to help them.
In my first election I was significantly beaten, but the image of the lady on the stretcher stayed with me and I put myself forward again for election and was successful in West Berkshire. Even to this day I remember the face of the lady on the stretcher and what a difference getting something done in our road would have made to her and all her fellow residents.