Do you have what it takes to become a town councillor?
In May 2019, elections will take place for Shipston Town Council. This presents an ideal opportunity for those interested in local democracy to put themselves forward for election. With at least two current councillors due to stand down, we’re calling on local residents to consider throwing their hat into the ring. To help you decide whether becoming a town councillor would be right for you, we will be interviewing councillors over the next few issues to find out what they think are the best things about being a councillor, as well as the challenges to be aware of.
Councillor Marianne Westwood has been serving on the town council for five years.
What prompted you to put yourself forward? The Portabello campaign made me attend council meetings. I found them interesting and decided I might be useful.
How easy did you find it adjusting to your role? At the start I felt I knew very little and was always asking questions. The courses I attended were all essential to understanding my role. It took time and I’m still learning.
What aspects of being a councillor do you find most rewarding? I find it all rewarding. I love being able to help people and being part of the decisions that affect our town.
Why should residents put themselves forward for nomination? Shipston is a special place to live and deserves people that care about it to serve. The council needs people from all backgrounds and with different life experiences. It’s not always easy. Things take much longer than you think, but as long as you care about Shipston and are willing to learn and listen, you will find being a Councillor a rewarding and interesting experience.
Councillor Brian Cooper joined the council just under four years ago. He will be standing down at the next election.
What prompted you to put yourself forward? I wanted to do something for the community, and contribute to the work being done by the other volunteer councillors.
What aspects of being a councillor do you find most rewarding? Being able to influence matters of relevance to the community, and being able to contribute, in a supporting role, to the preparation and adoption of the Shipston Neighbourhood Plan.
What advice would you give future nominees? Attend a town council meeting before you decide to stand for election to understand the range of activities covered.
Why are you standing down? I can no longer devote the time needed to handle the volume and complexity of planning application consultations.
Why should other residents stand? If you have the time available, it can be a very satisfying way of helping to influence the future of Shipston.