Welcome notes from your newly elected ALC
North West Representative
Cllr Amy Cross, Blackpool Council
Firstly I would like to thank all those who supported me during the recent Association of Labour Councillors elections. I am honoured to be mandated to continue our work introducing more training, resources and support for Labour Councillors. I think it is a huge part of my role to enable all councillors, whether on the frontline or in cabinet, to have a voice within our party. We should be informing policy and demonstrating the working ideas and proven methods we see every day in local government.
My experience as a councillor has been varied from the back bench to several cabinet roles. I hope this gives me a wide perspective and allows me to forward the needs of all councillors within the North West. I am excited to see what the recent change in leadership and shadow cabinet will hold and hope to see further support from our new front bench for those of us working with residents on a daily basis.
Cllr Anthony Hunt, Torfaen Council
I am the Deputy Leader of Torfaen Council and represent Panteg ward. I was first elected in 2012, before taking up the job of leading on finance. Like most Councillors, the parts of the job I enjoy are representing people and working with residents to help improve our communities – a vital role played by councillors across Wales and beyond.
I stood for the ALC Executive for two reasons. Firstly, because I want to be a ‘shop steward’ for Labour Councillors in Wales, standing up for a hard-working and often neglected group of members. Our councillors are having to take incredibly difficult decisions in the face of savage funding cuts coming down from the Tory Government. We should provide them with support and make it clear that the problems that our services and our communities face are down to the decisions of the UK Government, not our Councillors.
Secondly, I stood because I want to improve the voice that Councillors have within our party. We deserve to be listened to, but that’s not the point. The party cannot afford not to listen to us. We’re the ones who have the experience of governing and taking tough decisions, or of how to be an effective opposition in groups where we are not in power. If we are to beat the Tories in 2020 – or indeed in the elections we face next year – we must take advantage of that wealth of experience.
I will be open and approachable as your ALC rep in Wales, and can be contacted at Anthony.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07870 116463 if you need my help or advice.
South West Representative
Cllr Helen Holland, Leader of the Labour Group, Bristol Council
Being a councillor is the greatest privilege. It's a really practical way of being a champion for the Labour Party at a local level, showing residents and communities what difference having Labour representatives can make.
Getting alongside community campaigns, fighting for voluntary groups, linking like-minded people to achieve shared aims - all of these are every day activities for councillors. It's not just about attending endless meetings!
I stood to be the South West representative on the ALC to help share best practice in the region, to continue to work to make sure the SW gets noticed by the national Party, and to do my best to see that some of the great things our councillors and Councils in the region do, form part of Labour's offer as new policy is developed.
I have prioritised making sure that the Bristol Labour Group has renewed itself in the last few years, with more women councillors, more from B&ME backgrounds, and more young councillors, and I hope to be able to share that across the South West region, encouraging CLPs and LCFs to make the Party and our Councils more diverse and more representative.
We also need to make sure that Labour Groups, however small, are able to get their voice heard, so please use me, and let me work with you to make our role more powerful, and to ensure that the Labour Party builds on our local foundations, so that we win seats in Councils where we are either under-represented or have no seats at all, win control of Councils where we already have a presence, and help return many more than four MPs from the region in 2020.
Cllr Judi Billing, Leader of the Labour & Co-op Group, North Hertfordshire Council
I am really delighted to have been re-elected as Eastern Region representative to the Association of Labour Councillors for the next two years.
Labour in local government has been in my blood for a very long time now and I have been fortunate to be both a local councillor and someone who has had the professional opportunity to support councils and councillors through my work across the country and in some pretty difficult overseas assignments.
I live and am elected in a two tier area and serve on both the district and county councils on my Hertfordshire patch. I mention that because the complications of two tier working are also true for a great deal of my region. I hope to be able to join in and help shape some of the really complex issues and conversations that we will face in obtaining much needed devolved powers in a region which has fewer Labour Councils than it ought, and more Tory Councillors than is strictly decent! The UKIP councillors who currently inhabit some parts of the region need to be dispatched quickly and the Liberal Democrat contingent is shrinking pretty fast.
As well as contributing to the big debates of the moment I really want to act as a champion for Labour councillors both as individuals and as groups and if you think I can be of any help to you or your group then please do not hesitate to contact me on Judi_billing@yahoo.com or on Facebook messenger or @judibilling on Twitter. I will be at the ALC stand at conference for chunks of time and would be happy to meet anyone there.