Virtual Rambles of an East Ward Candidate

18th June 2015 By Fiona House

If you had asked me 2 years ago who runs our town I would have looked at you with bemusement and a shrug of my shoulders. As far as I was aware ESCC and LDC held the reins under dictation from central government and I was not too clear on the role of STC.

All of the above institutions I perceived to be shrouded in secrecy with regards to accessibility by the public. In the spring of 2014 it became apparent why this aura of secrecy existed and I started to realise how the councils slotted together to provide residents with public services and management of assets, and how user-unfriendly our Town Council had become.

 

2014 was an epiphany year for Seaford residents and, following the instatement of an interim Town Clerk, it was heart warming to see many overdue tasks being completed that had been held on the back burner for whatever reasons such as lease renewals etc. Seaford was moving forwards again.

In the run up to the main election on May 7th I was busy helping independent candidates Sylvia Dunn, Sarah McStravick, Debbie Ward and Steven Elston with some admin for their campaigns. This was an interesting few months and my observations on human behaviour during this time I will save for a book I may one day write if ever I retire!

May 8th I personally felt was the saddest day for the futures of hard working people throughout the country- the media spin had worked a treat and now we see the Government without the brakes of coalition. Not only that but due to the exceptional turn out the numbers of votes that would have been a seat gainer at STC in a normal local only election sadly returned none of the four independent candidates I had been working with.

However every cloud has a silver lining: Due to the sad demise of a candidate the day before the election the STC East Ward count was abandoned, leading to a by-election being announced for the 4 Town Council positions. In addition the disbelief that 2 of the councillors who had been most active in the town and pushed for changes to the Town Council had not been re-elected led to an emergency meeting of outraged residents.

The ifS story had begun.

After much conflabbing with family and employer, all of whom said if your heart is telling you that you need to do it – go for it, I decided that it was no good getting frustrated by situations: I needed to stand up and be counted. 3 weeks later my nomination papers, along with Sylvia, Sarah and Debbie’s, were handed in to LDC. You will see from the IfS blog it was a very tense day until we had the nod from the Electoral Commission!

Once that had been done it was all systems go to launch and get the campaign rolling. Thankfully we had done a lot of preparation in the preceding weeks so we could hit the ground running.

What has become apparent in talking to residents and friends is that most people were like myself 2 years ago: What do the councils do? Many people were unaware that they could approach councillors with issues, or had tried previously and got no where.

This has now become a personal crusade for me to let people know what the different levels of Council do, how they can contact and also how they can become involved: either by helping with campaigns on issues such as the recent announcement from LDC regarding housing or Tidemills and Newhaven Port Plans by researching, leafleting & spreading the word re petition or through local organisations who feedback to STC/LDC/ESCC and work in partnership to improve and protect our town.

The ifS website holds many useful links which will help people understand. Please do look through the other articles on this site. I do have a cunning plan for after the election, whether elected or not, more of which another day.

This ramble did start off with a working title of ‘de-bunking local councils’ but it has taken on a life of it’s own. So now becomes ‘Virtual Rambles of an East Ward Candidate’.