This week’s guest column comes from the leader of East Lindsey District Council Doreen Stephenson, who writes about what it means to be a councillor...
In this column I usually write about specific projects that the district council is working on, but this month I am going to speak about what it means to be a councillor – why we do what we do.
I was first elected as a district councillor in 2003 representing North Thorseby. It is a role that is both demanding and rewarding in equal measures.
The main role of a councillor is to be the eyes and ears of those who we represent, representing these views on the district council and also lobbying other organisations. Many councillors are very active in their community and really can make a positive difference to the quality of life for those they represent.
While being a councillor is not paid employment, councillors do receive an allowance for the work that they do, but for most this in no way covers the hours that they put into the role.
At times councillors have to make decisions that are unpopular for some, but they are always made with the best of intentions.
In East Lindsey, for some being a district councillor is that bit harder due to the area comprising of many rural communities, each with their own identities, spread over a huge area, coupled with the fact that government funding to East Lindsey is greatly lower and disproportionate to other areas of the country. We are feeling this financial pressure alongside local businesses and families.
One way in which we continue to support our local communities is through the District Councillor Grant Scheme whereby each year, each of the 60 councillors in East Lindsey can award up to £2,000 to good causes in their area which will benefit local people – this totals £120,000 a year across the district. A small grant really can make a big difference.
For larger community projects where a greater amount of funding is required, Community Grants of up to £8,000 are available to meet up to 50 per cent of the total cost.
I am in the privileged position of being leader of East Lindsey District Council and hope that despite the current economic climate and reduced funding we can continue to do our best for those who live and work in the area for years to come.