Local councillors roles have changed dramatically over the past ten years. With the advent of Cabinet government in local authorities, obliterating the former committee system with its interminable meetings, back bench members, such as myself, can focus their attention on the community/ward, that they represent.
In Harefield a number of issues predominate: housing, planning and protecting the green belt from unscrupulous developers, anti-social behaviour / law and order and helping defending Harefield Hospital and the superb work that it does from yet another round of NHS reorganisation.
I serve on the governing body of the Harefield Academy and revel in the progress it is making with the education standards and achievements of village pupils, as well as their magnificent sporting achievements. A change in fortunes of which the village can be proud.
Serving as a local councillor was never intended to be a full time occupation, rather one that took place in our own time after work and at weekends. Being involved locally complements my day job as an Assembly Member and, latterly, as Deputy Mayor of London, Boris’s Statutory Deputy.
Not too long ago I attended a conference in New York, by invitation and at my own expense. There were five Nobel Laureates in attendance. The first speaker was Henry Kissinger, the second Jim Watson of DNA double helix fame – it was a stunning experience.
Two days later I was back in Harefield helping a constituent who had tripped on the pavement and was severely hurt, suing the council insurers. It brought me back to the reality of why I stood for election. Feet on the ground time.
At the conference I asked Kissinger a question. In his deep guttural, german accent he asked me to repeat the question as he had “problems understanding people with accents”