Whenever local elections take place, as they will do next week, it means that some connections are inevitably broken, and new ones need to be made.
Whilst much of being a councillor is by nature local, there are important connections between local authorities, especially within regions. What I didn’t realise when I became a councillor is there are so many intra-regional bodies that councillors get co-opted to serve on. Right now I don’t sit on any of these groups, but it is evident how important they are, and that cooperation between neighbouring councils really matters.
Think about crime and community safety for example. Do criminals only commit crime in their own back yard? Of course not, indeed some deliberatley seek to exploit ‘cross-border’ oportunities. When councillors can strike up partnerships and develop strategies that deal with issues across a whole patch it’s better for everyone.
Transport is another one. Every day residents zig zag all over our region for work and for pleasure. The demand on roads and routes needs to be coordinated. Buses, metros, trains and cycles need to be integrated across the whole patch. Parochial mindsets really don’t help in this respect. Councillors representing on regional groups need to work out ways to support the needs of their own residents whilst holding in mind the bigger picture.
This is one reason why I’m not in favour of introducing “all out” elections here in North Tyneside, as some of our neighbours do. It is simply far too disruptive of the vital connections and relationships upon which the smooth running of services depends.