Council and ward: Clydesdale West, South Lanarkshire Council
How long have you been a councillor?
What prompted you to stand for election?
I never imagined I would ever be a Councillor however I wanted to represent the area I grew up in. I was also very interested in politics and wanted to represent the party I was a member of in the local area. I was spurred on by fantastic friend in the local area.
Describe your average week as a Councillor.
There is no such thing as an average week when you are a councillor. It changes very often! Most weeks I have several Committee meetings. The committees I am on is Education ,Licencing, Planning and the Executive committee. You also have your constituent casework on top of this which can vary massively from simple enquiries to full blown cases that can take months to solve. I also attend a number of community meetings every week and you have your political meeting on top of that!
How does being a Councillor fit in with your other responsibilities and commitments (such as children / caring responsibilities)?
I have recently had a little girl who is now 14 months. I was the first Councillor in Scotland to take family leave which was a policy change in our council in February 2020. In some ways being a councillor fits around childcare very nicely as it is quite flexible and since we have been virtual recently Erin is a regular at Council meetings.
What do you find most rewarding about the role?
It is a very rewarding job. My favourite part of the job is when you get a constituent’s issue sorted for them. People are normally very grateful for your help and sometimes it only takes a simple phone call from my end to make a difference! It is also very rewarding when policy gets changed in your local area due to your hard work.
And the most challenging?
I suppose that Local Government is an organisation that is quite hard to change and its often a fight to make that change happen. Sometimes it very frustrating the amount of time it takes for things to happen!
What has been your greatest achievement as Councillor?
There are lots of things that I have got changed for constituents that I am very proud of. Though there is work I have done locally within the council which has changed the policy to help women. Whether that is making nursey “free at 3” or women can have access to Period Products I would like to think it’s made a difference.
Tell us one aspect about the job that people might not know / find surprising?
It's very common for different Councillors from different parties to work together! In my local ward it often doesn’t matter what party we are in it matters what is good for the constituents and the local area! People are very surprised at that!
What support is available to possible candidates?
Whether it is your local party or national organisations like Women 50:50 or Elect Her then there is help there. If you are interested in standing even reach out to one of your local Councillors and I am sure they will be more than happy to have a chat about it.
Why is greater representation in local government important?
I was 22 when I was elected and as you can imagine there weren’t many other young people in the council. I remember someone saying to me at the count that a council full of 22-year-olds would be crazy, but we do need them to make a difference. A different perspective is needed in order to make policy that is representative of the place you live. It’s all about prospective. I still think we have a long way to go in Local Government in that respect but hopefully next year will make a dent in that.
What advice would you give to someone considering standing for elected office in their local area?
Go for it! Don’t overthink it and if you think you can make a difference in your local area you are 100% on the right path already! It can be daunting but equally very exciting.
And finally, who is your role model and why?
This is tricky! There are lots of people who inspire me in my role as a Councillor, but I couldn’t let this question go past without mentioning what a role model my colleague Eileen Logan has been to me throughout the years. As a Councillor for our area for 40 years she has been a constant support and friend in my time as a councillor. A true community activist and an inspiration to many.