As a Shinfield resident, who was so fed up with not being taken seriously or having my voice heard so I could ask, what and how my local Council was doing in my community, I stood as an Independent candidate in the last Borough Council elections. To the surprise of many including myself, I was honoured to be elected. Thank you, residents of the Shinfield South ward.
I joined two existing Independent Councillors, both had become disillusioned with their political party and felt they could better serve their resident’s by being Independent.
So how has the first few months as a Councillor been? On the whole I have been welcomed by fellow Councillors of all parties although I have also experienced a few Less Than Friendly (LTF) Councillors and Officers who appear to be dismissive or wary of an Independent. Mainly though, I have found some excellent and extremely committed Leaders, Councillors (across all parties) and dedicated Officers who really do care about making Wokingham a great place to live.
During the election one LTF incumbent openly informed me and a number of residents that voting Independent was a wasted vote as I would never be allowed to sit on Committees or have a voice in any decisions. He was wrong. As there are 3 Independents, we constitute a Group and have been welcome onto a range of Committees and are all extremely active in trying to improve what and how WBC do for residents across a range of services and topics.
I have witnessed ‘tribal’ behaviours where political party overrides doing what people believe to be the right thing. I hope that as Independents we can help reduce these behaviours.
I believe that the local election last year sent a clear message to the local political parties and as a result they are now much more open to change. There is a long way to go but I believe by working together and removing ‘tribal’ behaviours we can make Wokingham a better place to live.
Just in case you think this is a bit of a pipe dream read the following Guardian article that shows it can be done. The power of independence!
Article by Jim Frewin – Independent Councillor