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Local politicians are just ordinary people

June 5, 2014 10:13 AM
By David Watts in Beeston Express

Writing in the Daily Mail this week Quentin Letts described me as "sweet guy, grubby shirt." He then went on to highlight the fact that he found me to be very honest. A couple of days earlier I'd done an interview for LBC Radio in London where they had described me as being "refreshingly honest." It's a shame that honesty amongst politicians is seen as such a rare virtue that it needs to be commented on. I can say that in the fifteen years that I've sat on Broxtowe Borough Council I've never come across another councillor there who I viewed as being dishonest at all.

Unfortunately there is still a tendency to lump all politicians together and ascribe to us the worst attributes of any. I was talking to someone recently who said "The trouble with you politicians is that you don't know what ordinary people think." He was quite taken aback when I pointed out that I am an ordinary person. All your local councillors are. We are not professional politicians. We have normal jobs and do politics in our spare time. We shop in the same shops as everyone else, we drink in the same pubs, we attend the same churches and our children go to the same schools as everyone else.

At its heart politics is about people. That's why I first got involved, because I wanted to help people. This week has been a good example of what it's like. I've sorted out a housing problem for a single mother and tackled a problem of discrimination relating to a young man with emotional problems. This is usually the most rewarding part of the job. I can't, as a councillor, deal with all of society's ills but where the system isn't working fairly for someone, then often a quick letter or phone call from a councillor will sort out the blockage. Being able to make a positive difference to the quality of life of individual residents more than makes up for the seemingly unending tedium of meetings that we all sometimes have to attend.

Next year for the first time that I can remember the Borough Council elections will fall on the same day as the general election. However you choose to vote in the national poll, I hope that for the Borough you will vote for people who will work for their fellow residents.

Finally to put the record straight, when I spoke to Mr Letts I was about to do an interview live on BBC TV and my shirt was immaculate.