Judi Billing - as a local District and County Councillor, and Vice Chair of the Association of Labour Councillors shares some key points from her recent speech to annual conference
Whilst the Tory Government makes it increasingly impossible to deliver decent services to the people we represent Labour Councillors never stop trying to do the best for their communities.
Often they are the unsung public face of the Labour Party in real places with real people doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way or the other way round. The way they conduct themselves locally can really affect the way in which the Labour Party is seen in local and national elections. People often deride local government but it is there that many of the most serious needs of the most vulnerable people are met: These are the people without proper homes, people without decent jobs, food or income, looked after children and elderly people sometimes socially isolated and with complex care needs
The difficulties are intense for Labour councils and councillors battling with unfair and disproportionate Tory Government spending cuts, or in opposition locally as well as nationally. Some of our colleagues have to deal with UKIP councillors. A disgusting, but hopefully temporary, blip. Do not minimise the complications, the hurdles or the impact on people's lives that we, as Labour councillors can, and do, have whatever the obstacles put in our way.
Our one Labour councillor in Huntington, two in Brentwood and three in Somerset County are of as massive importance to the Labour Party as Manchester and Durham with nearly 200 between them.
In summary, we’ve achieved, and continue to fight for:
In education we fight for ever improving schools and results, not just in a time of grammar school outrage or the threat of forced accademisation
In housing Labour councillors do all they can to provide for those who find the phrase “affordable housing” both incomprehensible and laughable
In public health we work with the NHS and ensure our support to help keep services doing what they are meant to in the most appropriate places.
For the welfare rights of our citizens we work on many campaigns as well as helping and advocating for our constituents on an individual basis
We campaign for and support accessible public transport to keep our communities active, vibrant and sociable as people are meant to be - to enable participation in sports, in theatre in meeting and talking to others
And we provide imaginative solutions and initiatives to support clean, green and regenerated cities, towns villages and coastal places.
These things are the basic needs of the societies that we as Labour councillors struggle cheerfully to provide. Don't underestimate the task and please listen to what we have to tell you. Because we are truly on the front line national political parties and their leaders ignore us and our advice at their peril.