Describe the current political structure of your council.
Shropshire Unitary Council is a Conservative-led council with 43 seats: Lib Dems have 14, Labour have nine, Greens have four (up from one) and Independents have four also.
What was your experience of the election campaign?
We had a three-year build up with an excellent Campaigns Manager and team with a whole raft of experience and knowledge, there were two of us campaigning in the same Electoral Division – my colleague, Chris Lemon, who campaigned and won the Town Council Seat and myself who won the Unitary Seat. We had both lived in the area that we campaigned in, so knew it before – but not nearly as geographically well as now! People opened their doors and spoke to us, wrote to us and called us – it was a slow build up and a very rewarding one, we helped people and campaigned on their behalf. My experience was of hard work which was elating when you helped someone or was appreciated simply because you asked and listened to them.
How did it feel to win?
I didn’t think I would be as nervous, we were prepped to expect to campaign over two or three cycles. We had an idea that we were in with a chance of winning, but neither of us took it for granted. We were also concerned that people may split their vote, as it is a predominantly Conservative area. When those votes were being counted, my heart rate went through the roof, the anticipation knowing that three years had led to this moment and the elation and gratitude to the people of the constituency putting faith in you to represent them is overwhelmingly humbling.
What are the green issues affecting your local area?
There are many. High levels of traffic and traffic speed came up, safer cycling and walking to and from shops, schools etc. Green spaces and the threat of development come up too often – our whole area is under threat of further development and when it is developed, the existing wildlife and green spaces are also under threat. One huge threat to the local environment is the North West Relief Road which will not only devastate ancient woodland, single trees, the river and various water courses and pools along the way with road runoff pollution, but will be a massive financial burden on the whole county and therefore is a social justice issue. The non-compliance with planning permission has been my main workload since – particularly in green space issues, playpark and walkways unfulfilled, non-compliance with speed reducing measures.
To what do you attribute the growing interest in Greens in your area?
During the campaign, we talked, we listened and we knocked on every door in the constituency – something that has not been done in many years. Not only that, we provided information and helped with issues already being campaigned on. People are aware of the threat of the climate and biodiversity crisis, they are concerned about the future but most of all they care about issues that affect them here and now – increased traffic, speed, over stretched NHS, schools, GP surgeries and council budgets that do not cover the majority of potholes in the district. People feel the need for change and we knocked on their door. I am extremely elated to represent the Greens and am in awe of all of us who are activists.