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MEENAL

Getting ready for Local Elections

As many of you might know, the Hertsmere local elections take place next week! This means that I’ve been out with my co-councillors (Cllr Farida Turner and CllrVictor Eni), meeting as many residents in Borehamwood Hillside as possible to find out how we, as local councillors, are doing. It’s been very different to the last time I ran four years ago. And in all honesty, it hasn’t been much fun. Part of that is due to one obvious reason – BREXIT! People are upset and angry and I understand that. But what is frustrating is that Conservative Councillors don’t have influence over Brexit. What we do have influence over is making sure your parks are clean, that you’re happy with your bin collections and that we’re responding to your concerns, be them about parking, housing or local schools.

What I’ve been more surprised by are the dirty games, mud-slinging and lying that this election season has been saturated with. They are easy to ignore but still manage to affect and zap energy levels and morale. The other night I sat in a heated council meeting asking myself why I do what I do and why I wish to continue.

I will be honest – I came into local politics not because I necessarily follow the principles of any given political party; these principles and values seem to change frequently. Nor am I in local politics as a stepping stone into Westminster. Four years on and at times I’m still confused by how it all works in local government! I have missed meetings by mistake, I have been late and I have resented sitting through meetings where people’s behaviour is far from acceptable. I have spoken with angry residents and have come across hardship cases that have made me cry. I also don’t like the ‘short-termism’ of politics as it prevents long term systemic change.

But I do this because I believe in civic duty. I believe that communities should help one another. I believe that people’s voices need to be heard. I do this because my kids will never otherwise understand the importance of public service and I would like to show them, not just tell them. And for these reasons, after tiring long days, I rush to council meetings – I let my time with my young boys be interrupted, when they need me to help with their homework or read them a bedtime story.

And is it worth it? Yes! In my tenure I’ve been lucky enough to sit on Policy Review and Licensing Committees and have worked closely with a Homeless charity and a Women’s Refuge. I helped set up the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership, which works to support victims of modern slavery in Hertfordshire (yes, there are victims here). I’ve championed fighting violence against women in the community. I have loved the time I have spent with local charities like ‘Gratitude’. I am able to fight for what I believe in and strive to ensure that people in Hertsmere are able to live happy and healthy lives

Cllr Victor Eni, Cllr Farida Turner, Cllr Cynthia Barker and me!

My boys at at Byron Avenue Park, Borehamwood

Moreover, I have been part of a team that cares, made up of Officers who try and try and try in the face of huge financial cuts and challenges. From these Officers, from my MP, Oliver Dowden as well as the leader of the Council, Morris Bright MBE, and from all of the councillors I work closely with, I find strength and inspiration. They help find solutions for the most difficult problems. They give their time thanklessly. They spend hours thinking about what is best for our local areas and how we can provide better care and services. They care about everything from pot holes in roads to housing for the homeless. Their words are backed by action. And this is why I choose to sit on this side of the chamber. Whist my views are at times apolitical – I know I belong to a local Conservative party that at their core, fundamentally want to serve and make Hertsmere a better place.

Whether I am elected again next week or not – I have been grateful for this opportunity and the long lasting friendships I have made. If elected, I will serve again to the best of my ability. I will still fight for what I believe in. I will help amplify the voices of those who need to be heard. Please come out and vote on 2nd May – your vote matters!