Jason Zadrozny Column: I'm so proud of our new Ashfield Independent county councillors.
I would like to start by saying just how proud I am of your new Ashfield Independent county councillors.
For many of them, last week was their first meeting. Social distancing meant that it was held at the East Midlands’ Conference Centre rather than County Hall.
This meant that the venue was twice as big as the usual Council Chamber. It’s just as well that the Independent Group at County Hall had twice as many councillors.
During the recent election, we promised to fight on every key issue raised by you – the residents. In what some dubbed ‘…the pot-hole poll’ the number one issue raised was the state of our broken roads and pavements.
For the past four years, we continually raised not just unfair funding in Ashfield compared with places like Newark and West Bridgford but also the standard of road repairs.
This was on the agenda of the first meeting and our councillors stood up and held the Conservatives to account for their failures of the last four years.
To their credit, a full root and branch review will now be carried out. It just goes to show our pressure has paid off.
I would like to pay tribute to the thousands of residents who signed our petitions and wrote to us in their hundreds about the state of our highways.
Selston councillor David Martin and Carsic, Huthwaite and Sutton councillor Tom Hollis, to their credit, have really pushed for this.
Another achievement from the council was to persuade the ruling Conservatives to strengthen their policy on the use of and purchase of single-use plastics.
Councillors Helen-Ann Smith and Daniel Williamson successfully moved a motion to ensure the county council work harder to ensure the purchase of biodegradable products and as important to ensure it was bought as locally as possible.
In his Maiden Speech as a county councillor, Daniel paid tribute to the work of his predecessor Coun Rachel Madden. Rachel has always been an environmental champion, ever since she first got involved in politics in the successful fight against Bentinck Void becoming Europe’s biggest landfill site in 1999.
Daniel spoke warmly about Rachel’s achievements as a county councillor. He also spoke about how lucky we were that Rachel is continuing as a district councillor, looking after finance on our behalf. This is something I wholeheartedly echo!
Sometimes in politics you have to accept defeat for the greater good. That’s exactly what happened at the meeting.
I published a notice of motion ten days before the meeting calling for any plans to scrap borough and district councils to be axed.
Just two days after this was published, the new council leader wrote to all borough and district council leaders confirming that he agreed.
I feel the Conservatives used this an excuse to vote against our motion, saying that ‘…it had been decided anyway.’
So am I disappointed at losing the vote? Absolutely not. We now have in black and white a genuine commitment to retaining our local councils. This is a complete change of heart from the previous Conservative council. It is a promise that we will ensure is kept.
Coun Jason Zadrozny is leader of Ashfield District Council and leader of the Independent group on Nottinghamshire County Council.