Friday, 24 October 2008

Day Twelve

We’re almost two weeks into our campaign now and the election has formally been called. My Blog up until now has given a small insight into the more day to day things that we all deal with, but not a lot about what I stand for and why I want to represent the people of the Hardwick Ward as their County Councillor and what I have to offer them in return for their votes. No, I am not a Russian oligarch before you get too excited – drive and determination are on offer here.

A few things happened yesterday to crystallise my thoughts regarding this. One was the inevitable realisation that the media are going to continue to be more interested in Sarah Palin’s lipstick and new wardrobe than her policies. The second was a question to our MEP Andrew Duff at the Executive Meeting last night – do the electorate know what the Liberal Democrats achieve in Europe? More on that one tomorrow.

What I have to offer is a passion for my local community and the determination to see it represented properly at Shire Hall. My profile tells you that I am a Parish Councillor, a School Governor and have recently finished my legal studies. It does not convey the Advocacy I have practiced in relation to children with Special Educational Needs and my drive to see children given the best education available locally. We are blessed with some wonderful schools in this area – but that is no use to the family who is told the schools are oversubscribed and no places are available locally.

I drive, ride a bike or use the local bus services depending on what is most suitable for my particular journey. I’m lucky to have that choice – but many people don’t. Our transport links are vital and buses that have their service cut or simply don’t stick to their timetable are no use to people waiting for them to arrive. And for cycle paths to work the obvious thing is to extend their range and join them up – a journey needs to be completed safely but so many times a cycle path used ends abruptly.

Local housing is no good if there nothing affordable for the children and grandchildren of current residents to live in and they have to move away. So – if elected – I will be there to represent the views and wishes of the people of the Hardwick on the issues that are important to them. I want to know your views – please email me, call me, or stop me if you see me out canvassing and let me know what those issues are that are important to you.

In short I stand for democratic representation of the people of Hardwick Ward in return for the cast of their vote.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Day Eleven – Sore feet!

After a sterling effort by a truly inspiring number of helpers we managed to deliver just under 4,000 leaflets in 24 hours. I have a feeling that several of us will be sitting with our feet soaking this evening and mental note to self to wear walking boots next time I go out! The only scars I bear are on my knuckles – we live in an area of well insulated letter boxes and anyone who has ever done a leaflet drop will know what an assault course for the hands they can be!

My heartfelt thanks to everyone for helping to deliver, and to my Mum, Beth, for manning the phone and supplying soup, rolls, teas and coffees every time we needed a quick pit stop.

A few "quieter" days now so I’m hoping to help out at Teversham where Frances Amrani is standing as a District Councillor in the Teversham by-election on November 20th. We’re both benefiting from standing at a time when it’s “relatively” quiet on the election front and help has come from everywhere. We're very appreciative, and I'm discovering that leaflet drops certainly get you fit quick.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Day Ten - Rubbish thought!

Looking at the people following my Blog has introduced me to a really eye opening Blog: thank you to Amanda Taylor for bringing my attention to it.

As my children will confirm I have driven them mad from an early age with my determination to recycle as much as I can. Until the recent collection of plastic bottles with our green bin and box every fortnight I have also exposed them (and any one else within earshot) to my rant about Supermarkets not taking back plastic milk bottles. Having lived on the continent for many years, where recycling is a natural part of life, I’m glad to see that we are improving in Cambridgeshire but we still have a long way to go. My very patient boyfriend will testify to my habit of fishing things out of the bin after he has thrown them away!

If you have time please take a quick peak at the Cambridge Zero Waste Challenge. Most of us will not be able to achieve as much as they have – but any improvement helps. I too rip the plastic window out of envelopes – I’ll try a bit harder after what I’ve read!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Day Nine - realisation dawns!!

Daily events seem to have overtaken me a bit in the last few days and I finally have a few minutes to sit down and catch up with my blog. The excitement of the forthcoming election hasn’t worn off – but the realisation of all that we need to accomplish over the next few weeks has definitely dawned! I can not stress enough how grateful I am to all the kind people who are offering their help. It's going to make all the difference.

Today I’ve been out looking at the state of pavements in the Ward (how people are expected to navigate with wheelchairs or pushchairs in some areas totally defies me), and seeing where we can hope to make a difference. I’ve also spent the day signing letters to all of the local parish councillors in the ward and our local supporters. I feel very passionately about changes that we can and should make – small differences that will have a huge impact on the quality of peoples’ lives such as the choice regarding speed limits through our villages.

Tomorrow my mother, Beth, arrives to restore a sense of domesticity to our house for a few weeks whilst I have meetings and start to knock on doors and introduce myself to people throughout the ward. I’m keen to hear what you want from your local County Councillor – if elected I am representing you so your views are extremely important to me. Please don’t forget that I can be contacted by email at .

An early night tonight – the last I think for many weeks so I shall make the most of it!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Day Six – We’re Off!

The election has been called for November 27th – and we’re off!

I'm winding down work commitments now for the next few weeks and spent an enlightening evening at the Law Faculty in town at a Question Time with Nick Clegg. He had some very interesting comments on the economy and plans for the future and the need to not abandon our commitment to the environment.

It all starts here today – and whilst I’m in the midst of everything I mustn’t forget to cast my own vote in the Lib Dem President election. I’m not sure where to pitch it yet – still making my mind up.

This weekend I’ll be donning flat shoes for lots of walking and door knocking!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Dave Five

Apologies for the missed Day 4 Blog – work led on to a School Governor’s meeting which led on to a campaign strategy meeting and by the time I knew where I was it was the whole day over.

Things are really starting to move now and I can’t wait for the weekend to be out and feel like I’m really doing something useful and that the faith everyone is placing in me is justified.

Tonight we have a Lib Dem Question Time with Nick Clegg and hopefully a chance for another photograph. Hence leaping out of bed earlier than usual to ensure freshly ironed shirts and “tamed” hair! Watch this space this evening!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Day Three

People think that running for County Council is hard work and a huge responsibility. Whilst not under estimating the amount of time and responsibility it will be, I have just smiled through very gritted teeth at the person who has managed to loose a school fleece, a school jumper, football socks, almost the entire contents of his pencil case, his lunch box, his mobile phone recharger (at least it’s not the phone this time),his wallet, house keys, school pass bus and now insists that the body warmer he brought home after 2 years in his locker is too small to fit either him or his sibling ….. and all this since term started less than 2 months ago ……. and that none of this is his fault……. I shall relish the tranquillity of heated council debates!

More wonderful emails from you all – and I now have a mobile phone dedicated to election business. My concession to not wanting to turn into a faceless grey suit is to have a shockingly pink one! I’ll have to find an equally “uniquely Fiona” ring tone to go with it.

More news tomorrow as our Campaign finally takes off – I shall enjoy my last night of peace as I write yet another cheque to replace lost items.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Day Two

I’d already planned to attend the East of England Regional Conference yesterday, what I hadn’t expected was to have so many people squint at my name badge and declare “Ah, you’re Fiona!”. My decision not to wear the usual weekend attire of Jeans was probably a wise one as I had my photograph taken with our MPs, MEP and others. The wonderful Simon Hughes was particularly gallant when one of my heels sunk into the grass whilst we were having our photo taken and I was stuck fast! Watch this space and future episodes of our Focus to see who I’m meeting at the moment. It changes so quickly even I don’t know what’s coming next, but I’m really looking forward to meeting Nick Clegg at our Question Time session on Thursday evening.

Today is a quieter day. I’ve picked up copies of our recent Focus to deliver locally and answered more kind emails offering support and encouragement. I’m quickly realising the wonderful generosity of people in the party – I’ve been inundated with offers of help (all gratefully received and I will be taking you all up on them!) and can’t wait for the campaign to formally get rolling once the election is officially called. Our campaign really kicks off on Tuesday evening so I’m spending the day getting the house organised and the freezer full – whilst remembering that someone has to load and unload the washing machine and generally getting my “coalition of the unwilling” aka children to learn that whilst magic may work in the world of Harry Potter, us poor mortals and muggles need to actually do it ourselves.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Day One: We have a by-election!

Sitting in a totally silent household as everyone else sleeps, I finally have some peace and quiet to look back, catch my breath and reflect on the amazing 24 hours that have just passed.

A normal Friday until I switched on my mobile to check for messages at about 11:00 and discovered a frantic one from my agent, Martin Land, asking me to call him back “immediately” in the tone of voice my mother uses when you know better than to ignore it! A quick call later and I discover to my shock (surprise, amazement and delight once the shock wore off) that our current County Councillor had tendered his resignation and a by-election was going to be called. It’s one thing to agree to stand for a position when you know that elections are 8 months away and a very different thing when you suddenly realise that they are about 5 weeks away!

My decision to change from full to part-time work last week could not have come at a better time and a few phone calls later to my equally surprised and excited parents and close friends, I had wall to wall support organised at home to allow me to give my all to the wonderful opportunity I was being offered – standing as a County Council candidate for the Liberal Democrat party.

Coming home from work I discovered 10 messages on my answer phone and 33 e-mails in my Inbox and realised that we had hit the campaign trail running. I’m overwhelmed by the messages of support and offers of help flooding in from people I’ve never even met. I’m very grateful to each and every one of you and hope to meet everyone over the coming weeks as the campaign heats up so that I can thank you all in person.

I have two sons and we had a quick family meeting this evening so that they would understand what the next month or so would bring (the sort that goes along the lines of me delivering some momentous news and asking if everyone understands that it will mean making some changes and them nodding and asking what time dinner is at). The great thing with a teenage son is that you know your place in his order of priorities!

So here I sit typing, as everyone else sleeps and I can finally get my thoughts together. Always a fan of putting things in my pocket diary I have dusted off my faithful personal organiser and I’m ready, organised and chomping at the bit. It’s funny how big and small things vie with each other in your mind whilst jotting down what needs to be done. Later on this morning we have our East of England Regional Conference at Huntingdon. Planning my week ahead as the local party election machinery swings into action I’ve cleared my diary but as a Governor of our local Primary school I have a meeting early on Tuesday evening and then later on another meeting with the local party to plan my campaign. In between I mustn’t forget to organise tickets for Cambridge United as I’ve promised to take my sons to see them play on Saturday 1st November and at the back of my mind is the all important form I have to submit by November 7th that secures my younger son a place at Secondary School.

We’ve survived Day One and as a whole family can’t wait for the thrilling roller coaster ride that the next few weeks are going to be. I feel very honoured to be selected and hope to be able to serve the Hardwick Ward very soon.