Hitchin North County Councillor, Judi Billing, will be contesting the seat again in the upcoming elections in May 2017. Here, she reflects back on some of the things she and other Labour colleagues have achieved, as well as looking forward to the work still to be done.
As the only Labour County Councillor in Hitchin, surrounded at County Hall by a sea of Tories, it is sometimes hard to make inroads into the worst of their policies. You know, those ones to do with negligent highway maintenance, isolating communities with no support for public transport, and allowing education to be taken over by academies and free schools with the threat of grammar schools on the way.
But the County Labour group is active and vociferous in holding the Tories to account. And in our local communities we are able to make a considerable difference to many people. Specifically in Hitchin North that has meant:
- supporting families with children with special educational needs to ensure that they got the best possible education for their children when the county council wasn't even listening to them
- making sure that ALL of Common Rise was resurfaced when the County Council tried to get out of doing parts of it for ridiculous reasons
- persuading the education services to bother about a group of families in the Purwell area who currently have no priority for any local secondary school. From next year Highfield school will take applications seriously as the nearest school for those who want to go there.
- fighting for the right of the Priory School to expand as it wants and needs to do to ensure that there are sufficient Hitchin places for those who want a mixed school for their children
- finally introducing a 20 mph zone in some of our most densely populated and dangerous streets - still awaiting implementation which is taking forever!
- using my locality budget to support the continuation of the Family Matters group when the County Council abandoned Homestart, helping Smarty's Day Nursery to expand and providing a crossing patrol in Strathmore Avenue when the County Council would no longer pay for it.
- introducing solar speed activated signs in Strathmore Avenue, Old Hale Way and St Michaels Rd to encourage drivers to slow down in our residential areas
- demanding action to change the layout of a roundabout in Periwinkle and Water Lane where previously there were accidents reported virtually every week.
There is of course still lots to do, and these are just a few examples of what we've achieved. But being in opposition is massively frustrating and I've had to work hard and find creative solutions to some problems. However it is never, ever, hopeless.