Thank you for electing me and thoughts from the campaign

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.

My Pledge: Community Coding/Robot Clubs

Google Bus in Redditch

(The above video is intended as an illustrative example of the kind of club we could start)

If I am elected* as your Borough Councillor in Church Hill on Thursday 3rd May I will work with the council and community groups to establish ‘community coding clubs’ in the local area. I will even be willing to run these myself as I am a software developer by trade.

The clubs will teach children from a young age, and could also be open to young adults too if we can get enough support. They will be held in the local area, so easy to get to and at a suitable time of the day.

The clubs will help Church Hill people get the skills they need to understand software development and coding better, and would hopefully lead to Church Hill people being able to access highly-paid jobs in the software industry.

For the younger ones the classes will use robots and kits like Raspberry Pi to teach coding and software development in a fun way. For the older ones we will use more business-focussed activities.

If elected I will work with the Borough and County Council, and government bodies where necessary, to access funding to support these clubs. What’s more, although I will start with Church Hill, I hope to be able to push them out across all of Redditch in time.

These clubs are important to help skill our young people for their future in work where robotics and automation will be prevalent. I want to make sure that Church Hill children are not left behind.

Please get behind this pledge by voting for me on Thursday 3rd May.

  • (I’ll do them even if I’m not elected, just to be clear)

Have you voted by post yet? Don’t forget to send back your postal vote ASAP

3 Good Reasons to Vote for Mike Rouse

  1. I will find a way to do something about the old doctor’s surgery on Tanhouse Lane. I have already had early discussions to understand the problems in more details and I am confident there is a solution to be had – but I need to become your local Councillor first.
  2. I will run coding clubs in the local community in partnership with local groups. This will allow adults and young people to learn how to become software developers and apply for good jobs in the IT industry. I will run these classes myself as an experienced software engineer who wants to share my expertise to help people.
  3. I will work hard to ensure Church Hill is clean, green and safe. That means I’ll tackle issues around trees, and I’ll work hard across the board to help move other issues forward, such as anti-social behaviour. I can’t claim to solve these problems on my own, but I can be a strong voice for the community.

I lived for 5 years in Donnington Close in Church Hill South. I got married and brought my two daughters home to Church Hill. I grew up in an estate like it. It feels like home, and I want to be a strong voice in the council chamber to make Church Hill the best it can be.

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More Details about Voting by Post

You can vote by post, which is when you send your vote to the council in the post so that it arrives by the close of polls (10pm) on Thursday 3rd May 2018. However, I strongly advise you to return your ballots as soon as possible.

If election day (Thursday 3rd May) is looming then bear in mind the time it takes for the Royal Mail to deliver your ballot. Do they have enough time? If not you might be best dropping your postal vote into a polling station on the day. You can do this, it’s fine. Just take it along to any polling station in Church Hill.

To be able to vote you must be registered. It takes around 3 minutes to do it online.
You can also register to vote by post online too (PDF).

Deadline to get your postal vote registration sorted (5pm on Wednesday 18 April 2018)

Postal voting: a step by step guide

Look out for the white envelope with purple edges that is usually sent out two weeks before polling day. Please take great care with the contents. If you lose or destroy them you will need to contact the council immediately.

Open the outer envelope. Inside the outer envelope there will be:

  • One Return Envelope marked ‘B’
  • A single document of instructions explaining how to complete your paperwork
  • Ballot Paper Envelope marked ‘A’, which contains your ballot paper(s), with a security statement attached to it

Take great care not to mix up your documents with anyone else’s in the house.

You can detach the instructions that explain how to complete your paperwork, but do not detach the security statement.

On the security statement, using black pen write your date of birth in the boxes and sign your signature in the boxed area. Take care to use your usual signature. If your signature or date of birth varies from the records you supplied to the council previously, your vote will be rejected. This is just an anti-fraud security measure to protect against abuse of the postal voting system.

In a private place, mark your ballot paper with a clear ‘X’ in the box next to my name – mine is the one with the Conservative Party logo next to it.

When completed, fold the ballot paper and slip it into the pocket of the Ballot Paper Envelope marked ‘A’. Remove the self seal strip from the envelope flap where shown and fold over to seal. Remember, do not detach the security statement.

Place the Ballot Paper Envelope marked ‘A’ and the attached security statement into the Return Envelope marked ‘B’.

Return without delay. The postage is pre-paid. Make sure you send it back so that it arrives by close of poll, which is 10pm on election day. If it arrives later than this your vote won’t be counted!