This past few weeks, walking the streets of the Parkstone Ward, visiting each door, walking up each path posting leaflets by hand, in person and talking with people about their hopes for the area and the gaps between those and their current reality has been a truly humbling experience. I truly feel more connected to Parkstone and thankful for those that helped me raise £90 for a local charity.
People have come out to shake my hand, others have been enraged, screwed up my leaflet and got aggressive. People have written too me with questions and points of view, and I have been thanked with comments like “You have been the only one to respond… I’ve placed my postal vote for you – good luck” There appears to be a real energy and appetite for change in “The Way” politics is done. If we change the way better choices will be made on all the issues that are important to us.
Having witnessed several council meetings over the last 12 months I am appalled at the
quality of debate and how uncomfortable it can be for the public to participate and raise their concerns.
For me the absence of a vibrant Neighbourhood Forum in Parkstone is a fundamental
opportunity to become more transparent and open. We can listen to residents, get more people involved and come up with solutions to local problems with local people. Now with the merger of
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, there is a significant risk of the new council becoming
even less connected with the residents and businesses of Parkstone.
I hosted an open “Have Your Say” neighbourhood meeting last Thursday which was attended by a diverse range of people of opposing viewpoints and backgrounds. It was a delight to see how issues were raised and discussed and how mutual understanding and meaningful conversation was developed. Even seeds of solutions.
I believe that the role of a New Councillor is moving from being representative of the electorate to one that ensures your voice is listened too and who actively facilitates more participation in the decisions made. I welcome the opportunity to be part of that change!