Column: The hard work starts here

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The campaigning season has now ended. Writing and delivering leaflets, trudging the streets in all weathers, is over for another year. We worked hard, covered miles in shoe leather, talked to lots of residents and some of us thanks to your votes, got the results we wanted.

You would think we could breathe a sigh of relief but in actual fact the hard work has just begun.

Whatever your views on politicians - and we heard a few! - most of us are motivated by a desire to help people and make things a little better in our communities.

You might think that politics does not touch you, that whoever you vote for ‘the government always gets in’, so why bother?

But if you are young or old, part of a family or a single person, if you have a job or not, politics and the decisions politicians make affect us all and those we love directly.

It affects the places in which we live and the air we breathe. It affects whether we have a decent home to live in and can put food on the table. It affects whether our children get a good education, whether we get treatment when we are sick and the care we need when our life is drawing to a close.

In Calderdale 40.7% of us cast our vote. In Todmorden, my ward, 40.51% of you put a cross in a box.

In Calder it was 53.8% and in Luddenden Foot 48.4%.

Our democratic systems are not perfect but whoever you voted for, thank you for voting. Thank you for trusting us to do our best on your behalf.

A year ago I was elected for the first time. I can tell you that it’s a pretty awe-inspiring thing to see 100s of crosses next to your name. I felt humbled and determined to do my best to make a positive difference.

For me as a local Labour councillor it often means helping individuals negotiate a system that seems stacked against them.

As a ward councillor you deal with anything from the complexities of Universal Credit, to housing and rent issues, planning and roads, parking, litter and the seemingly inevitable dog dirt.

It means supporting those community groups who day in and day out work hard to make a positive difference to the lives of individuals and enrich our environment.

Whether advocates for mental health, decent homes, running a food bank, or filling our town with flowers, they deserve our thanks and assistance.

Then there is the day to day running of the council, with fewer and fewer resources, making choices in the areas of health, housing, jobs, education and the environment and it means scrutinising these decisions too.

And finally it also means keeping a close eye on the national picture and doing my bit to change this for the benefit of the many, because, make no mistake, the decisions of national government have a direct influence on our day to day life here in Calderdale.

So thank you for voting. Thank you for putting your trust in us to represent you.

For those of us you elected, especially my new colleagues, congratulations and good luck – the hard work starts here.