Sometimes, the devil is in the detail.
That’s why I believe that persistence, scrutiny and hard work can pay off if you’re a team of just two on a Tory and Lib Dem-dominated council.
Between us, Angela and I sit on several council committees and our roles include holding to account officers and councillors for decisions they make on behalf of the borough or our constituents in Stoke.
Recently, I read through more than 200 pages of the agenda for the Executive Advisory Body, a committee that I sit on and that is supposed to advise the council’s executive body. Reaching the last few pages of the document, which dealt in part with next year’s budget, I noticed that the costs involved in burying children in Guildford’s cemeteries was to increase by more than 10%. Horrified by what I saw as a very unfair increase on grieving families, I spoke up in the meeting and received a pledge from officers to go back and look at the figures.
Subsequently, the officers told me that – as a result of my intervention - they had scrapped plans to increase these burial fees by 10% and above, and level a less onerous (though still unwelcome) 3% instead.
It’s just a small example of how you can have an influence as a member of the minority party on Guildford Council, but it’s one that shows how politics and Labour values CAN have an impact on people’s lives if you can just find that devil in the detail.
Cllr James Walsh