We interviewed Stephen prior to the local elections in May, and now he’s written for us about his experiences so far as a Parish Councillor.
Last May I put myself forward for Hellingly Parish Council and also to be a Hailsham district councillor for Wealden. I live in Hellingly and thought I would have a very good chance to get elected to the parish council as I am known through the local community. The district election was always going to be a lot tougher representing the SDP, and with being a ‘smaller party’. The big issue with Wealden residents is housing developments, especially in the north of the district and this saw the Greens pick up seats there and in South Wealden it appeared to be a anti-conservative vote. Parish elections are more about the local community rather than party politics and I think the election results back this up.
In May I elected to the 15 seat Hellingly Parish Council and sit on a couple of the subcommittees. I already knew a few of the councillors who were re-elected. The good thing about a parish council is that all its members live local and have a good understanding about the local community. The Parish Council clerks are brilliant at what they do and maintain the day to day running of council business. There is a mutual respect amongst all the councillors and at my first full council meeting I didn’t feel intimidated or made to feel unwelcome. Over my tenure I want to represent the local community by doing the right thing and supporting the residents. Hellingly is in a good place at the moment, and I want to continue the hard work that has gone before.
I have also been adopted to stand in the next General Election as PPC for the SDP in Wealden. With a possible election next year, we are starting to put together a campaign and look at what we need to do. The SDP have some fantastic common sense policies available on www.sdp.org.uk these include, re-nationalise the railways and utilities, pause mass immigration and make a decent home available for everyone. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour are so out of touch and fail to address any issue head on.
What made me do it? Like a lot of people, I was getting fed up with government not representing my views or listening to normal people. So, I stood in the 2019 General Election and put myself forward for local government to challenge and try to and make a difference. I would say to anyone if you are not happy with things the way they are and want to bring about change, get involved. Whether if its standing for election or even delivering leaflets, being part of something that challenges what is wrong, is the right thing to do.
It can be daunting and lonely on the campaign trail often with yourself in the spotlight. Be confident in your ability, plan, prepare and research and you will always be better. Get back up and go again when you get knocked down.
Main photo includes an aerial view of the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul in Hellingly, East Sussex. This is a photo of listed building number 1043186 by Barbara van Cleve.