I have represented the Speldhurst & Bidborough Ward for the past five years and have lived in Langton Green for the last 27 years.
Most of my work involves trying to help residents with particular problems, and making appropriate interventions to sort out log jams and resolve disputes. Recent examples have included investigating the use of planning powers, and speeding up our application processes.
Since joining the Council, it has been my privelege to serve as Chairman of the Conservative Group, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Group, Chairman of the Economy & Governance Scrutiny Select Committee, Chairman of the Budget Working Group and Chairman of the Langton Green Conservative Branch. I currently sit in the Audit and Governance Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, two of the most important committees after Cabinet. Through these many tasks, I have been able to influence the corporate direction of the Council, to scrutinise each of its actions on behalf of residents and to keep costs down and make it one of the most efficient in the country. To give some examples of what each of these roles has involved:
The Conservative Group represents 39 of the 48 seats on the Council and co-ordinates the policy of the Council, dealing with issues of concern andand reaching a consensus on major issues. Apart from Chairman, the Group elects the Leader of the Council and other post-holders within the Group but the Leader, once elected, chooses the members of the Cabinet. However, the Group has a responsibility to deal with discipline issues from rank and file members. Usually there is a discussion on major issues and these discussions are sometimes augmented by members of Kent CC and addressed by Greg Clark MP, our MP and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee acts as a critical friend to the executive policy makers within the Council and can call-in decisions for review by the rank and file members. It tries to reflect the views and concerns of residents and seeks to drive improvement in public services. It has responsibility for examining and reviewing the Council’s work and can positively influence the development of Council policy. Recently it has reviewed the growing problem of night-time flights into Gatwick and the significant effect this is having on the well-being of a number of our residents. It has opened up the possibility of Council membership of the Gatwick monitoring group that liaises with the Airport authorities.
The Audit and Governance Committee monitors the accounts of the Council and in particular ensures that there is proper governance, appreciation of risk and accountability. The Committee is augmented by four independent members and by the District Auditor and meets about 4 or 5 times a year.