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Two ex-Cabinet members at Lichfield District Council have warned that the local authority needs to work for all of the community – insisting local elections give everyone a chance to “change things for the better”.
Cllr Iain Eadie and Cllr Andy Smith spoke out ahead of the local elections in May.
They had previously served as part of the Cabinet but resigned after it emerged that the long-awaited Friarsgate scheme would not go ahead.
Cllr Eadie, who will again contest the Leomansley ward alongside Cllr Smith in May, revealed that his decision to resign from the leadership team was sparked by personal concerns.
“Regardless of how people want to vote on 2nd May, we hope everyone will take the opportunity to do that,” he said. “This is the vote on issues affecting where we live.
“Andy and I both stood down as having families we felt it was wrong not to bring forward the regeneration and to give all our young people the opportunities to go to the cinema where they live, or to be able to go to the places they would like.
“The district council needs to make sure it offers solutions for everyone.
“If people come out and vote on 2nd May it gives everyone, including our own local party, a chance to change things for the better.”
“More than just council and committee meetings”
One former Conservative councillor – who is now standing as an independent – has already called for more people to stand in order to ensure a broader perspective is introduced into decision making and better represent the district as a whole.
Cllr Smith said he believes it’s crucial that elected representatives are directly involved in their communities.
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“Being a councillor is more to us than just the council and committee meetings – not to mention the preparation meetings for these,” he said.
“Both Iain and I have also volunteered to be Governors at local schools. At the moment I am a Governor at both the Friary School and at King Edward school.
“We also volunteer our time outside of work and the council to support children’s sport in Lichfield. I know Iain is involved with coaching rugby at Lichfield Rugby Club, as well as helping on the committee that runs the club too.
“I do the same at Lichfield Round Table Football Club where I am the chairman – which can mean everything from cutting the grass to marking out the white lines.
“In Leomansley we are lucky to have an active resident’s association called LARA. As councillors we regularly attend their meetings and AGMs to discuss local issues and take on concerns our residents have.
“We have also taken part in the litter picks arranged between Lichfield District Council and LARA, as we want to look after where we live too.”
“It’s not all about tea and biscuits”
Cllr Eadie admitted that the councillors had perhaps “not done enough to keep residents informed” about the actions they have taken in representing the electorate – but insist that they have both been active members of both Lichfield District Council and Lichfield City Council.
“Lichfield District Council’s full council meets seven times in a year, with the main political parties holding a group meeting in advance of those meetings,” he explained. “Councillors are also appointed to overview and scrutiny committees that usually meet four times in a year.
“Councillors may be asked to be on more than one committee and councillors could also be on the Planning committee that meets usually every four weeks.
“Elected members will be expected to prepare for meetings by reading papers that can run on occasion to several hundred pages.
“Lichfield City Council also meets ten times a year, again with the political parties holding their own meetings in advance. All city councillors are on the planning committee that also meets usually every four weeks.
“Despite the fact we have been working hard to represent our residents and serve the whole of the district, we acknowledge won’t have done enough to keep our own residents informed as to what their councillors have been up to.
“For most people they only seem to hear from their councillors or candidates when they are looking for votes at election time.
“But we hope anyone coming onto the councils on 2nd May doesn’t believe it is all just tea and biscuits!”