Fairfield Parish Council

CBC Ward Councillor Report 2023-24

My journey towards becomingNick Andrews a ward councillor began with a pivotal Parish Council meeting before the election on May 4th, 2023. Following the meeting, instead of receiving encouraging words from a fellow candidate, I was met with a derogatory comment that fuelled my determination to make a difference locally. This sparked a month-long campaign fuelled by the support of friends, family, Labour members from North Herts and a few Conservatives!  We tirelessly distributed leaflets, knocked on doors and meet residents across the area.

On May 5th, at the count, it became evident that many previous Conservative Central Bedfordshire Councillors (CBC), Executive Members and Ward Councillor had lost their seats and their majority. The newly formed Council, with the largest group being the Independent Network, formed the Political Executive. This has led to a political landscape without overall control by any single party/group, making Central Bedfordshire’s political scene quite intriguing for us newcomers.

Within a unitary authority, both elected members and officers play vital roles. Elected members shape council strategy through motions and scrutiny committees, with financial decisions falling under the purview of the Executive. The Chief Executive and their Corporate Management Team oversee approximately 3,000 employees across various directorates such as Children’s Services, Places and Community, Resources, and Social Care, Health, and Housing. Additionally, the Director of Public Health oversees joint initiatives with neighbouring areas, underlining the integrated nature of healthcare governance (Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board).

It’s important to note the hierarchical structure where Officers operate under the Chief Executive, sometimes leading to tensions and conflicts with Councillors who feel their wards are not given due priority.

Personally, I serve as Vice Chair of the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee, where we examine policies, ensuring fairness and accountability. Furthermore, I sit on the Development Management Committee where we assess planning applications and make crucial decisions affecting our communities.

In addition to these roles, I am a Board Director of the Integrated Drainage Board, addressing concerns around local water management. This is particularly pertinent given recent high levels of rain affecting Pix Brook and the Standalone dam.

Lastly, as a School Governor at Fairfield Lower School, I advocate for educational initiatives like CBC’s “Schools for Future” program, now hindered by budget constraints and renamed ‘3 tier to 2 tier’ program.  This has been changed due to CBC forecasting a decline in student numbers.  I am questioning this at every opportunity with Officers and Executive members considering all the local development planned in the Shefford to Stotfold cluster.

An area I am concerned about, as a previous Parish Councillor and now Ward Councillor, is road adoption.  I now have regular meetings with Road Adoption Officers which has led to success in completing the adoptions of Palmerston Way, Salisbury Close and the soon to be completed Eliot Way.  This will then enable adjoining roads open to commence their own adoption through the Section 38 process.

This past year has been a steep learning curve, filled with challenges and opportunities. I am optimistic about the progress we’ve made and the potential for positive change through collaboration with fellow Councillors, Executive members, and Officers. As we continue to forge ahead, I remain committed to serving my community and effecting meaningful change for the betterment of all.

Councillor Nick Andrews
Arlesey and Fairfield Ward
April 2024

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