We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Life as a Town Councillor in Sawbridgeworth

March 25, 2018 11:23 PM
In Annelise Berendt Furnace

by Annelise Berendt Furnace

Annelise Berendt FurnaceIt is remarkable how much work our local councillors do for their residents and communities, and how readily citizens can engage with them. Five fascinating months as a Town Councillor in Sawbridgeworth have given me a real insight into the contribution councillors make to the life of the community.

Monthly full council meetings have packed agendas and I have been impressed at the number of issues councillors get through. It has been great to see local people actively taking part in these meetings and presenting petitions such as those on library services, traffic and footpaths. All agendas and minutes from these meetings are available online and I would urge residents to take a look.

As well as the formal meetings, Sawbridgeworth councillors are running surgeries throughout the year, designed as a less formal way for local residents to bring concerns, suggestions and ideas to the attention of councillors. Pavement improvements, encouraging alternatives to car use about the town, and ensuring we have a prosperous High Street were all issues raised at my first councillor surgery. Surgery dates are listed here.

I am also one of a group of councillors and local residents involved in an innovative masterplanning process aimed at identifying, highlighting and suggesting ways to resolve issues arising from developers' proposals for building new homes in the town under the East Herts District Plan. The District plan is now in public consultation and I would urge local residents to read and comment on it.

There are three levels of Council covering Sawbridgeworth, each with its own responsibilities - this article in CM21 Magazine (page 12) provides a good explanation. Organising local events is one of the Town Council's responsibilities and is something the Council office team do incredibly well. The Christmas Lights switch-on, for instance, is a super event bringing together families to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. Another is the Town Selfie Walk involving five local primary schools, Hertfordshire County Council's Sustainable Journeys team and Sawbridgeworth Town Council, to encourage walking, cycling and scootering to school.

I find it a real privilege to be involved in these activities as a councillor, and to see the community spirit they engender. Initiatives that bring local residents, support services and community groups together must surely be a central part of life in any local council.

Annelise Berendt Furnace, 25 March 2018