Southfields Bye-Election – Councillors – What should they do if they get elected?

Whilst out collecting SGRA street subs late last year a resident told me that although they’d paid the Council to collect an unwanted bed and mattress a few weeks before,  they had not done so despite contacting the council several times. Later I emailed one of the Southfields Councillors and they got onto the Council Officer concerned and this caused the items to be removed quickly from the property. I even had a Christmas Card from the resident thanking me for taking this up to the local Ward Councillor.

Over the next few weeks political campaign flyers will drop through our letter boxes adding to the already piles of unwanted Junk Mail. Some you will transfer this to the recycle sack but others, who may not find anything on the TV worth watching, may entertain themselves reading the flyers, noting all the promises and about what they will do if elected and what their opponents haven’t or won’t do.  Some of these flyers are works of art, highly coloured, images of a smiling candidate, standing by a dodgy cracked pavement, a hole in the road or outside the doomed Post Office and Cinema or by a site where a new store will move in and put local businesses ‘out of business’.  The text will tell you all what they will be doing about it, ‘if elected’. If you believe it all then a countdown will end and all issues be resolved within a month, or earlier. Have you ever wondered why politicians don’t get sued for breach of promise or trading standards or something?

There’s no escape, forget the No Cold Calling Zone, the NCCZ signs displayed along  the street, the councils initiative targeting fraudsters, canvassing it appears is alright because, its ‘traditional’ one Town Hall person told me recently.  The election machine is finely tuned, they know if you’ve been to the polling station so you make sure you give those people blocking your way out of the poll station your poll card number, a leg out often does the trick of slowing down anyone fool enough to try to avoid this. Warning if you don’t give them your poll card number, be sure to get a bash on your door in the evening, promises to drive you to the booth if you vote for them, assist you to vote, wheel out your Granny in her bath chair, forget Corri or Eastenders, hit the record button and go to the pub, park, anywhere.

If you do get caught though, it helps if you have a handy list of questions pinned behind the street door ready to challenge the canvasser or candidate. Yes, some candidates get out and about, kissing babies, jollying old girls and frowning when being told how much the council wanted to charge them to come round and get rid of a fox that had set up home in their bedroom and had eaten their precious moggy. If the candidate does turn up, its wise to get a good look at them, take an image with your mobile, it will probably be the last time you see them, that is until the next election. Some residents have tricks such as waving a fictitious list at them, this will surely get them running for the hills, they don’t like well prepared residents asking awkward question when they cold call!

Of course I’ve made all this up, it doesn’t really happen in real life and most councilors will tell you they will do a fair job ‘if elected’ but you need to be on their case

It may well surprise some people that although the SGRA’s Constitution doesn’t allow alignment with any political party, present and prospective Southfields Ward Councillors and often Wandsworth MP Justine Greening attend the monthly meetings at St Barnabas, when her role as Cabinet Minister commitments allow. Usually when people vote they don’t realize the importance of their Local Councillor as opposed to their MP. However, local councils are run by elected Councillors who are voted for by local people.

So what should they be doing for us if they are elected? Here follow some brief answers that may help you choose who to vote for in the forthcoming Bye Election on Thursday 29th March.

As I understand it Councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the community about local services, for example rubbish collection, leisure facilities, repair and maintenance of the pedestrian highway, trees and parks and agreeing budgets and Council Tax charges. The work of a Councillor includes holding surgeries to help local people, supporting local organizations, campaigning on local issues, and developing links with all parts of the community. Councillors are not paid a salary or wages, but they are entitled to allowances and expenses to cover some of the costs of carrying out their public duties. They are not Council employees. The elected Councillors provide the policies, and then paid employees (council officers) put them into practice.

If you have an issue directly affecting you not only whereas matters on the Grid are concerned you can contact your local Councillor to discuss the issue. You can contact them via your local authority or attend the Councillor’s advice surgery. Advice surgeries are available for local people to ask for help or advice, make a complaint or enquire about local authority services.

If you don’t want to yourself are or not confident in doing this direct you can raise the matter at the monthly SGRA meeting or through your Grid Street Representative who if they don’t know, can put you onto someone who does. Wherever possible the Chairman or Vice Chairman will email any or all of the Ward Councillors and put to them the issue and await a response and then report back to you.

If you want to know more check out the www.direct.gov.uk website.

The SGRA have immediate contact details our Councillors..

I hope this helps!

Stech