I can’t help noticing that councillors can come in for some pretty strong criticism on these pages. Quite often their motives are, to put in mildly, questioned. Sometimes it is deserved.
Councillors come in many shapes and sizes, even Conservative ones, and their motives are bound to be just as varied. Perhaps if I tell you a little about what, for me, was a really rewarding morning that made some pretty dreary days fade away.
As the Executive member for Transport and Highways I had an appointment for a photo-op and visit to the humble HQ of the third sector operator of the Council’s social transport buses. They, and the County Council, had won a national award for their innovative improvements; they had done all sorts of clever things, reorganising routes, integrating schemes, consulting users, organising tenders for new services and better vehicles. I was the elected member who was to show up, congratulate them and have my photo taken. I felt like a fraud and I said so.
As the morning progressed I saw the amazing satellite tracking devices
on the screen and listened to the call handler rearranging routes to
allow for cancellations and delays. At the same time he took calls and
reassured infirm or worried passengers that the mini-bus was on its way
and was on time or changed schedules. I heard impromptu tales of
elderly people whose days were transformed by the ability to get out
and about safely and even socialise on the bus.
Gradually it became clear that the briefing meetings with the officers,
the encouragement and support I had given at certain points, the tricky
public meeting or two and the policy guidance I had given had enabled
all this to happen. The officers seemed to appreciate my support far
more than I had realised and had put my hopes into action.
It is a real privilege to have played a part in bringing about these
improvements that seem to have had a really positive effect on the
lives of people who could otherwise become isolated and lonely.
Readers may be assured that the changes were carried out in line with
real Tory principles, we are helping more people by including third
sector providers and without spending more, even when transport costs
When the County Council ceases to exist in 2009 I shall really miss the
opportunities to make a difference but then who knows what
opportunities may arise…