Ready for a fresh start

THIS will be the last column I write for a few weeks due to the purdah period before the local council elections which will take place on Thursday, May 3.

It is an all-out election in Hartlepool which means every council seat will be up for grabs.

This in itself is an unusual occurrence because we usually have council elections by thirds where only one third of the councillors are up for election at any one time.

The reason for the all-out election is that, following a review by the Boundary Commission, the number of electoral wards will reduce from 17 to 11 and the number of councillors will reduce from 47 to 33.

The reduction in the number of councillors is something I have been pursuing since I first came to office in 2002 and I’m delighted to finally see it come to fruition.

Whoever is successful in the elections will be coming into a more streamlined council and will need to be more focused and efficient in their council work.

Each councillor will have a larger area to cover and more people to represent than the current councillors but the number of committees will reduce and therefore the time spent on council business should in theory be much more productive.

I realise many people are not always interested in local elections but I would urge as many people as possible to take 10 minutes to cast their vote.

It is important that you have a say who represents you on the local authority but also which people are entrusted to hold the purse strings of Hartlepool Borough Council.

We are entering uncharted waters as far as Government cuts and pressures on our finances are concerned and it is vital that we have councillors who are going to be able to make tough decisions and do so in the very best interests of Hartlepool.

Being completely biased, I would suggest that you might want to vote for someone who is going to help and support the mayor over the next 12 months for the benefit of the town.

I am looking forward to welcoming a new council into the fold and I want to work closely with all councillors from all political persuasions over the coming year.

It doesn’t matter to me if they are new on board or if they have been here for many years – it is clear that petty squabbling doesn’t get us anywhere fast.

From my point of view, a brand new council means a clean slate and a fresh start and as I’m the eternal optimist, I’m looking forward to a much more productive year.

She won’t thank me for doing this but I’d like to publically thank Olive Anderson who has been my personal assistant for a number of years.

Olive retired from the council last week after many years of dedicated service.

I’ve lost count of the number of compliments I’ve received about Olive over the years about the way she dealt with people on my behalf.

She provided invaluable support to all councillors over the years but has especially kept me in line and made sure I am where I need to be at the right time.

I know she is looking forward to a well deserved retirement and I hope it is a long and happy one. Best wishes Olive.

I’ll be back again in early May and once again, please remember to cast your vote on May 3. It will make a difference.