A little late as we are now well into January but I am finally getting round to putting down my New Year reflections. First a brief review of 2007.
For me personally 2007 was a year of change and new beginnings. The first half of the year was dominated by preparations for the May local elections. As an Executive member on the Council the last few months of the four year political cycle was about finishing off projects, making those last few key decisions, and clearing the decks so that we could, hopefully, start afresh with a new council. Such as putting the finishing touches to the last budget of the Liberal Democrat administration.
The main issue that I dealt with during this period was pushing forward with the plans to establish the Luton Cultural Services Trust, a new way for Luton’s libraries, museums, and arts venues to be run. While the Trust is yet to be properly set up the plans are well under way. Of all the things I’ve done over our four years of minority control of the Council getting the idea for a Cultural Services Trust agreed by my Group and on the Council’s agenda is one of the things I am most proud of. I think our decision to do this will prove to be quite inspired and will leave a lasting legacy for the people of the town.
Given our membership and level of resources we fought a very strong election campaign. Our literature was the best I can remember us producing. The amount of activity was pretty intense and our morale could best be described as ‘determined’. The eventual result was, while disappointing, of huge credit to us and our efforts, particularly given the well-resourced and externally supported Labour campaign we were up against. The result saw Labour gain a small overall majority and us go down 3 seats on those we had gained 4 years ago, but the result was very close with the difference down to a few hundred votes in several wards, including my own.
So the second half of the year, as far as local politics goes, has been about adjusting to being in opposition. I think we as a Group have done this pretty well. To be honest in some ways its been something of a relief. Less pressure, less responsibility, fewer reports to read and meetings to go to, and a lot less demand on my time. However, despite the feeling of somehow having got back parts of my life that had gone missing, I have felt a huge sense of frustration. The power to achieve change and make improvements to the lives of the people of your community, however small that power may be, is immensely fulfilling. I have, with my colleagues, achieved things which I am hugely proud of. The loss of the extent of the scope that I had by being a member of the executive of a unitary authority to do that has taken me some time to adjust to. There are some councillors who thrive in opposition and there are others that are more suited to being part of a ruling administration. While I am beginning to see how I can make a difference from opposition, I know which one of those I am!
One of the saddest things about the change after the election was losing several good colleagues from my group who I had enjoyed working with. But one of the best things was welcoming to our group two new excellent councillors who are already making their presence strongly felt.
Away from local politics, although not entirely unconnected, has been a new start for me in my professional life as a web developer/editor. I had a series of freelance contracts with three good and very different organisations. One of which liked me so much that they are keeping me on well into 2008. I’ve enjoyed the work that I have done and been able to refresh my skills and develop some new ones. With less demands on me from the politics I’ve been able to concentrate on and rekindle my enthusiasm for web stuff.
Moving away from me personally and looking at the wider political scene the year has largely been characterised by frustration and disappointment. Tony gave way to Gordon, but nothing really changed. Also, it has to be admitted, it wasn’t a particularly vintage year for the Liberal Democrats. Ming gave way to Nick, and we will see in 2008 if this means change for the Party’s fortunes. Partly because of our leadership issues, for me this year has also marked a shift in my attitude towards my Party. Something that may have been seen from the posts on this blog in recent months. My commitment to the Liberal Democrats has not wavered but I have become a much more critical friend. More of that in future posts…
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.