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Sorry it’s taken me a few days to pen this article. The post-election period is tough, especially after such a hard-fought campaign. We had all been working on this since August 2017, so it’s been quite a journey.

But as Friday afternoon approached and the votes were being counted in Church Hill I was convinced that Labour appeared to be sufficiently ahead and expected them to be victorious, but that we had perhaps managed to close down the gap in vote share somewhat, but then the piles of votes got closer and closer in terms of their relative size on the table. Things were not as clear cut as I originally thought.

It was then a tense moment as we waited to be called over and be informed what the actual figures were. As we huddled around the Returning Officer and her paperwork I could see I had won by a single vote. That’s right, just one vote.

At this point a recount was quite rightly requested and everyone gathered around to scrutinise the process to ensure that no ballots were mis-counted into the wrong piles. After a while there was a commotion at the nearby table when Labour discovered a vote in their favour and pulled one vote ahead. But then, just as I thought it was all over, the counter in front of me reached the final ballot on the final pile of votes and there it was – a Conservative vote. It was like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I had found my ‘golden ticket’.

I was expecting a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th recount, but to be fair the 1st recount was done so carefully and professionally that it was obvious the result wasn’t going to change. We agreed to accept the results as follows:

Church Hill Election Results 2018

 
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Mike Rouse 766 42.56% 19.60%
Labour Nina Wood-Ford 765 42.50% 9.89%
UKIP Kathy Haslam 128 7.11% -28.15%
Liberal Democrat David Gee 87 4.83%
Green Robert Wardell 54 3.00%
Majority 1
Turnout 1,802 31.1%
Conservative gain from Labour Swing 14.74%

Source: Wikipedia

My opponent from the Labour Party, Nina Wood-Ford, who won this seat in a by-election in 2014, was gracious in accepting defeat, though it’s obviously a very bitter blow to lose by just one single solitary vote. I cannot imagine how she must be feeling. I really felt for her and very much wanted to offer some comfort, but I’m the last person she would want to hear from at this time. I know there is a lot of resentment towards me from the Labour Party, but I also hope time will be a good healer and we can start to at least talk so we can put the residents of Church Hill first. I will be waiting with olive branches and cups of tea.

On winning this seat I need to be mindful that a majority of 1 is not a huge endorsement, even though I achieved a swing to the Conservatives of over 14%. I see it as being given the smallest of chances by the residents of Church Hill for the Conservatives to prove ourselves as a party, and me as their Borough Councillor, by doing good work and being dedicated to their cause. I said from the start I would fly the flag for Church Hill in Town Hall and I will do just that.

In being a Councillor for Church Hill I promise I will also be straight and honest with you, even if that means breaking bad news or telling you things you perhaps don’t really want to hear.  I don’t believe in making promises that I can’t deliver on, and I don’t believe in building up false hope.

What’s more I also believe in you, the residents, and your ability to help your local area and solve problems. I will always encourage you to roll up your sleeves and work alongside me to achieve an outcome. I will roll my sleeves up too and we’ll stand side-by-side to get the job done. I can only do so much on your behalf, the rest has to come from you. It’s my job to kick down any doors that are blocking your way.

My pledges

I won this seat on a number of key pledges and I must now deliver on those. Here’s an update on the topics where I have information to share. More to follow.

Doctor’s Surgery on Tanhouse Lane

I have spoken with one of the former GPs and through our town’s MP we have had communications with the land owner. There are a number of ways to tackle the issue and everyone has expressed a willingness to talk and work together for the same outcome. The situation is at a sensitive stage at the moment, so I do need to give that a chance for a couple of weeks, but I will be keeping a close eye on matters and will report back soon.

Moss

I never made a legal argument about moss – it was always a moral argument, especially when a resident broke his ankle as a result of slippery moss. I have proven that residents cannot clear it themselves and have already begun to lobby my colleagues across the Borough and County Council to come up with some solutions. Some of the moss all over Redditch has been there for years and is now causing problems as well as making parts of the town look less than impressive.

Coding Clubs

I have already got a provisional agreement for a little bit of funding to kickstart this initiative and I’m already in early talks with local community groups about delivering it. There is a lot of organisation and preparation work to do on this scheme, but I am making good progress so far.

Casework/Issues

If you would like to raise an issue with me please use [email protected] for now as my Council email address is still being set up.

You can email me to arrange a phone call if it’s easier to discuss your issue more directly, and you can email me to book a face-to-face appointment too.

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