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Beth Hooper: The unexpected councillor

February 7, 2020 11:07 AM
By Beth Hooper in Leigh and West Leigh Focus
Originally published by Southend Liberal Democrats - Working For You

Beth Hooper ()

At last May's local elections, Lib Dem candidate BETH HOOPER beat the odds to become a councillor for West Leigh.
Here, she gives an insight into her first few months in the Council chamber.

On the night of the election in May last year, I wasn't expecting to win.

Apart from being elected to West Leigh Infant School governing board when my son was young, I had never been a candidate for anything.

When so many residents voted for me I was genuinely delighted. I was, though, all too aware that it was also a huge challenge.

I want to see real and positive change for our town, from the way the roads work to keeping everyone safe and well.

It is easy to talk about ideas to improve the world but now I'm part of the team trying to deliver it in West Leigh and the wider area. As a councillor people seek your advice and support on all kinds of issues.

I spent 15 years working at the BBC as a journalist, which means I have a background in research but there is a huge amount of learning to do in order to be an effective Council member.

I am an avid reader but even I have struggled with the huge amount of paperwork we're expected to understand and scrutinise.

Apart from my work to improve Hadleigh Road and Western Road, I've supported residents to get the right decisions for Underwood Square and Highlands Court, although development control and town planning is one area I have had to study late into the night.

In quiet moments the challenges can feel quite daunting. When dealing with a community there are different opinions on what is the best outcome.

Most important Council decisions are made by committee, with all the frustrations that can entail, while delivery of services is much more complex than I ever imagined.

But, through my role as your councillor, I have been privileged to gain a greater understanding of our Borough and the wonderful people who live and work here.

Thank you to all those who have supported me so far.