Posted: Friday 1st February 2019
I was thrilled to receive a PCC Pride Award last August for my work as a local councillor. I’ve been involved in local community matters for over 10 years. I started on the South Petherton Youth Parish Council at 14 and since then I have been on the Parish Council, the District Council and Somerset County Council. For me the excitement is in campaigning for better local services.
Local government is at the heart of community life. It provides many of the core services that keep our communities flourishing. In Somerset most of the Council’s revenue comes from the Council Tax and Business Rates but over 60% of the money is spent on Adult Social Services and Children’s Services. Not much left for everything else.
South Petherton and surrounding villages is a rural community and our needs are different from towns like Yeovil or Bath. Local buses are vital for our older residents who don’t drive and I have had to fight hard to try to maintain local services. I have had to battle to maintain the Library in South Petherton: some support is promised from the County Council while most of the money will now come from the Parish Council. That is the essence of the work of a local Councillor: listening to people, determining priorities and trying to find the money from various different sources. Very often there may be some money available from one source but you have to find creative solutions to make it deliver. Several of the villages in my ward, like Lopen, have some dangerous road junctions and other road safety issues. The County Council officers have been sympathetic and by working with them we have had improvements made. This would not have happened without lobbying and agitating.
Another of my passions is youth work. That is where I started, working with disabled young people in Yeovil and then taking over the running of the Youth Club in South Petherton when I was chair of the Parish Council. I am dyslexic so my time at school was not a great success but I found my inspiration doing Horticulture at Yeovil College. I discovered I had a talent for it and, instead of failing exams, I got a distinction and afterwards I started my own landscaping and gardening business.
Somerset needs the energy of its young people. It needs to invest in them and support them. At a time when Government finance, national and local, is squeezed, we need determined local councillors to make things happen for the young, the old and the whole community. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Adam Dance, PCC Pride Award Winner 2018.