Conservative Lee Chamberlain finds fresh problems at the civic centre after returning from a four-year absence
I have always held that a councillor’s job is to represent residents in the council, not the council in the ward. It is why I stood to remove low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), restore weekly bin collections and protect the Green Belt.
I was doubly fortunate to be elected in May for Winchmore Hill ward, alongside the industrious Maria Alexandrou as my ward colleague. We make a good team, supporting each other with residents’ enquiries, and Winchmore Hill is a fantastic ward with some interesting features within its boundaries. It holds the local gem that is The Green; Grovelands Park with its varied landscape and facilities; Broadwalk with its notable homes; not to mention a number of excellent hostelries and restaurants that make it a great place for people to live and work.
As an experienced former councillor and past mayor, returning after a four-year break brings Enfield Council as a body into fresh perspective. Sadly, while some things have changed, little has changed for the better. Full council meetings are more frequently dominated by dog-whistle motions brought forward by the controlling Labour party group. These motions, with little relevance to actual council business, often result in serious business passing without discussion thanks to the ‘guillotine’ that restricts debate.
Councillors are now required to use a barely-usable online reporting system for resident case work. This poorly-designed system replaced a simpler, more effective system of direct emails to council officers. We have forced some improvements, but it is still a hindrance, as yet offering no discernable benefits. To top it off, the IT systems have gone backwards, forcing many of us to revert back to using paper documents after years of being paperless. Nothing we can’t handle, but a shocking state of affairs.
The good news is that the new, larger Conservative group is reinvigorated, with our recent opposition priority business pulling the lacklustre Local Plan out of the long grass. While the current draft plan is utterly unacceptable, its delayed arrival (originally due 2019!) has left Enfield totally vulnerable to bad development being pushed through. Not that the administration needs any help in that regard, with Labour members of the planning committee recently voting to approve a 30-storey tower block that will only have a single stairwell for escape – despite concerns being raised by residents and Conservative councillors like myself. As an opposition we have to shine a light on these problems, so they cannot be ignored, and fight to change things for the better.
We hold regular ward forums in Winchmore Hill. We normally meet in the evening at Friendship House and future dates will be advertised on the council website.
Lee Chamberlain represents Winchmore Hill ward alongside Maria Alexandrou (both Conservative). If you are a ward resident you can get in touch:
Email [email protected]