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Darlington Borough Council

Meet the councillors!

My CV

Councillor for:

Eastbourne since 1996 (14 years)

Party:

Labour

Council job:

Deputy Mayor, member on Licensing and Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee

Profession:

I am a carer. I am a JP and have an honours degree in Politics. Previously worked for the Railway for 20 years on computerised freight.

Photo:

Lee Vasey

Just come in from my meeting at Firthmoor community centre. The police highlighted the hot spot crimes around the area and in particular shed burglaries. This is because people are trying to steal bycicles. We are looking to do some bike marking in the new year because we think that people who get bikes for Christmas might benefit them so that criminals who steal them will be put off. The best thing is to take a photograph of your bike and have it safety marked by the police.

Favourite Thing: Beautiful flowers, I am a keen gardener and think that the Gold medal and cup that Darlington won in Northumbria in Bloom was well deserved.

Me and my council work

Into IT in a big way with e-mail, facebook and mobile, like to be able to hopefully fix problems asap.

We work as a team in Eastbourne, where I represent. Bill, Roddy and me have two surgeries a month at Pilmoor and Firthmoor community centres. Not too many people come to these as most people prefer to e-mail us or phone us. We always update each other as to what we have done which keeps us up to date with ward problems. I have two committees that I sit on one is Licensing and the other is Health and Well Being Scrutiny committee. Licensing is facinating and I enjoy it very much, it is also something I have a lot of knowledge of as I have been a magistrate on Teesside for the past 20 years. I also enjoy the sub committee hearings where they range from people applying for a new licence to people trying to keep the one they have got! The scrutiny committee is exceptionally busy as it covers all health issues and concerns like teenage binge drinking to worries about teenage pregnancy. I am Deputy Mayor at the moment and if I get re-elected next year I get to be Mayor. The Mayor has been away in Mullheim last week and I was kept very busy doing his schedule. I particularly enjoyed the dinner at Durham last Saturday with the Rifles , who were given Freedom of the Borough of Darlington the Wednesday before. That occasion was brilliant, Darlington people did them proud and talking to them after the award, they were very excited that so many people turned out to cheer them on. In the past I was in the cabinet on the council, this was when I held the portfolio for Leisure and during that time the Dolphin centre and the Arts Centre was upgraded. We opened a new and rejuvinated, Victorian South Park (which we have just recieved a gold in Northumbria in Bloom) and changes were underway at the Railway Museum. In my ward since I was elected in 1996 we have a new school and a new community centre, CCTV cameras and a home zone, new play areas at Tommy Crooks Park and the Park off Burnside Road with relaxing gardens with a sensory garden as well. All these and more make the Eastbourne area a pleasure to live in and hopefully the residents can see the improvement to their quality of life that these improvements give them. I have chaired the Community Safety Committee for many years and recently we amalgamated with PACT (Police and Community Together) to make sure that crime and safety issues in my ward are addressed, the residents are encouraged to have a say and we do get problems solved. I have been a member of the Maidendale Fishing and Nature reserve for about ten years and applaud Ian Thompson (the Chair) and Dave Preston (the Secretary) for the fine work they do, particularly in involving young people in fishing. The Community centre also has young people at its core the Chair (also a young person) Kevin Nicholson (and a previous Young first citizen) encourages many activities for all ages in the centre, him and his team of trustees do a fine job. My job as a councillor is all about people, thankfully I am a people person, all ages and all walks of life I enjoy their company and I try to solve the problems and concerns they have to the best of my ability.

My Typical Day

Make sure Nana is awake and give her her breakfast then put the computer on, let the day begin!

My mother in law (Nana) is living with us, she has dementia and needs looking after which is what we do. In her prime she was the Matron of Bishop Auckland hospital and other hospitals, she is nearly 90 and deserves a good end to her life. My son Michael is dragged kicking and screaming (as most young people are I imagine) to get up for school and Jonnie needs the same sort of treatment depending what shift he is on for work. John (my husband) usually does the getting up thing and lets me read the Northern Echo and do the suduko, bad day when that doesnt get finished in ten minutes. Check for any work in the in box if not do the housework, making beds, ironing, typical boring stuff. I did have 4 years off from doing the boring stuff (or a least some of it) when I went to Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College for a year to do an access course to enter University. I must say that the sixth form has great tutors and great pupils, I was made really welcome and before long the kids didnt look at my age and treated me as a mate and I made many mates. I left with a distinction in Law (I really loved that) a distinction in English Language and a credit in Sociology. I would have enjoyed sociology if the subject matter was more up to date instead of mods and rockers in the sixties I would rather have looked at the reasons why people (I dont mean just young people) drink nowadays to get drunk and more up to date social problems. I went to Northumbria University and studied Politics and got my BA (HONS) degree last July. Possibly a typical day would be like Tuesday last week . I attended Darlington College with Jenny Chapman Darlington’s MP to start of a run. The subject was water and the distance that young people walk in Africa with water just to live! A good fine reason to get involved. From then it was to the Town Hall for a Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee which did discuss important issues in Health including the 111 new number for problems in Health that were not 999. Took John to the Railway Station for his journey to York where he works as a Railway Manager then home to Give Nana her lunch, check the inbox and do a bit of housework. I am Chair of Governors at Northwood Primary School and this year we got a new eco friendly school with a grass roof. It is fantastic and I am very proud of the Head Teacher Mr Ackroyd, all the teachers, pupils and Governors. We all work together to make this a very happy school! I had a Finance meeting at 3pm and the conversation before we started was about the visit to the Town by Deputy Head Zoe Beach and some of the other teachers and pupils to see the Freedom of the Borough given to the Rifles. They were so enthusiastic about the day and how well the pupils behaved, I was so proud to listen to their experience as I spent most of the parade waving at them across the parade ground. We all mentioned the tears in our eyes when the band played, Peter one of our Governors who went with pupils said what a great day for Darlington. Well Then! We had a personel meeting straight after, dropped Peter in the Town and headed home to make tea for Nana, Michael and Jonnie. Vince the driver for the Mayor came at six thirty and we went to the Town for Darlington’s MIND to look at the work they do and give out the educational certicicates. Yet again there are people who go the extra mile either as a teacher or volunteer to help people from a vulnerable background and I said so and appreciated them to the hilt. Then it was home and prepare dinner for John and me but I had to pick him up from the railway station before I could relax and put my feet up.

What I'd do as "Youth Champion"

Shout out loud the good stuff young people do, have been doing it for years long may it continue!

Talking to people there is a tendency to be worried about the fear of something rather than the actual situation of a bad thing happening. Older people tend to be worried about a large amount of young people congregating together regardless what they are doing be it good or bad. It is a confidence issue, one against the many, and they tend to avoid large groups of young people like the plague as they think that they are up to no good. A friend of mine told the story about a journey walking home in the dark. She saw a group of about ten young people walking towards her, chatting and being a bit boisterous and knew there was no where to go. She battened down, trying to look inconspicuous, worried, when as they were just beside her one of them shouted out ‘Hello Mam’. I was having a bit of bother about young people playing near some old people’s homes in my ward one time and at the Community Safety meeting asked the PCSO’s to knock on the doors and ask the residents for their opinions, as I thought it might be an intolerance issue. Most were ok about it, found it a bit of a nusance but one brick of an elderly lady said ‘ Don’t sop them playing football, you get sick of the telly and if I need some milk or a little bit of shopping they do it gladly’. Bang the drum for the young I say!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Young at Heart

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Take That (now they have Robby back, yippee)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Laughed through a earthquake in Palm Srings this year

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Be 26 again, be thin, not have diabetes.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Rich (didnt happen)

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

No (a good catholic girl I was)

What's the best thing you've done as a councillor?

Being part of a team in supporting North Road in getting a new school

Tell us a joke.

There were two muffins in an oven, one said to the other ‘boy its hot in here’ and the other muffin in shock said ‘a talking muffin’.

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