2011 has been a tough year for me. On January 2nd, my father died. He had a stroke 6 weeks previously and never really recovered. Last Christmas was the first festive period which I had spent visiting family and visiting my dad in hospital every evening. It was a very surreal experience. As New Year came about, I was busy gathering the family as much as possible and the inevitable happened.
The next few weeks it was arranging the paperwork and the funeral, and we had our father cremated on 27th January. After the service, I was in the pub with my brother when I checked Facebook on my phone. It then became apparent that some bad news had been delivered at my work. The director had visited and put the entire call centre on 90 days notice of redundancy. The centre manager had not called me as he knew I was at the funeral. I made the call and it seemed that my team was unaffected, however over 80 people who I had worked with for over 8 years were to be made redundant.
All of this was happening as we were organising a tough local election for South Kesteven District Council. We had organised the selection of 16 candidates for the Grantham area alone. However with disappointing numbers from the other areas of the district, we only stood 22 candidates across the district. Despite this, we were hopeful to return a significant number of candidates.
And to be fair, we increased our share of the vote from 24% to 29%, we returned 6 councillors (300% increase from 2007), including returning 3 councillors for the Harrowby Ward, unseating 2 long-standing independent councillors, and returning a Councillor for the St.Anne’s ward, unseating the then Mayor of Grantham and leader of the Independents. We had to contend with the referendum that brought out the Tory vote in key marginal wards, and also a certain sense of apathy across the town, with some wards only achieving a 20% turnout. It is safe to say there is still a hell of a lot of work to do to engage the voters of Grantham on a meaningful level.
Since the election, the editor of the local paper offered me a fortnightly column and this has helped build the profile of the Grantham Labour party. We have had the opportunity to voice our ideas and our concerns over the development of Grantham and what the alternative may be for the town. This is something that has not been done previously, and has increased our exposure.
Grantham Labour has continued to work on a number of different projects and campaigns, and personally I have been working hard with the Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), ensuring that Grantham Museum opens to the public in 2012. This leads me to the exciting plans for 2012.
I have stepped down as the Chair of the Grantham Labour party, so that new leadership can take the steps that are needed to ensure that Grantham Labour becomes the strong political fighting force it has the potential to be. I have been the chair since Jan 2009 and have seen many changes, and it is now time for a new generation of members to carry it forward.
2012 for me will be preparing for the opening of Grantham Museum in my role with the GCHA. The plans are exciting and I personally cannot wait for you to see what it will look like.
I will also be putting in preparations for the county council elections in 2013. This will be a real opportunity for the people of Grantham to make a change at County level, and ensure that their needs & wants are truly represented. I would like to stand as a candidate for election, and will be putting myself forward for selection. I hope that I will be able to show the people of Grantham what can be done to ensure that Grantham is truly prosperous.
I will also be supporting the new Chair of Grantham Labour and the sitting councillors in any way possible. It is important that our elected representative’s actions are seen, as their work for the people they represent is plentiful but do not enjoy the benefit of taxpayer-funded publications such as SKToday or County News. I intend to ensure that balance is redressed.
So 2012 looks to be an exciting year. A busy year. A year where change can be realised. The hard work starts now.
(P.S. Don’t forget the Olympics are also taking place in 2012, and the torch is coming through Grantham (yeah!!), but more about that in a later post).