September 2019: Councillor Q and A
Kingswood Voice meets your local ward councillors.
In the second of a three-part series, Kingswood Voice meets your local ward councillors voted in at the last council elections. This month we put questions to New Cheltenham ward councillors Sandie Davis and Kim Scudamore, who represent the Labour Party on South Gloucestershire Council.
Do you have any specific roles within the council/within the community? I’ve taken on the role of shadow lead for Children and Young People within the council. I’m a foster carer of 37 years specialising in looking after children who have disabilities. I’m a governor at Warmley Park School and a trustee of the charity Incredible Kids.
What would you like to achieve in your councillor role? As a local councillor I’d like to be accessible and available for local residents and assist them with any issues that are important to them and also to understand how council works, its priorities and be brave in challenging if necessary.
What do you consider the biggest issue facing our country today? The biggest immediate challenge facing our country is to sort out Brexit but having a bigger impact is the suffering caused by nine years of austerity and cuts to services.
And on a South Gloucestershire level? This has had a big impact here in South Glos with still more cuts to come - we have the lowest school funding in the whole country and our secondary schools are underperforming which will then affect our future workforce.
What about in your own ward? On a very local level there have been cuts to services that support children and families which have left people struggling and we are now seeing a rise in anti-social behaviour particularly involving young people. People are finding it hard to get GP appointments, some hospital waiting lists are increasing, getting mental health support for children is particularly difficult and education for our most vulnerable pupils seems to be at breaking point, poor roads, lack of parking spaces/inconsiderate parking and dumping rubbish are issues that have all been mentioned to me recently. There is certainly lots to do.
What has been your proudest moment? I have two stand out proudest moments - winning a national award for Inspirational Mother of the Year and being elected local councillor on May 2.
How do you relax? I relax by just chilling at home, I like to visit the cinema on my own during the day when it’s at its quietest (not since the election however!)
Where is your favourite place? I love to visit North Devon particularly Appledore.
What’s the best and worst thing about your ward? The best thing about New Cheltenham ward is, of course, the people - who I’m hoping to get to know a lot more and the worst thing - ask me in a year or so!
Do you have any specific roles within the council/within the community? I am the Labour group lead member on the Regulatory committee and the shadow lead for Community and Tourism. That covers topics such as waste, Streetcare and other community services.
What would you like to achieve in your councillor role? I hope to support and encourage community groups so that residents are helped to work together to improve their area, and become proud of their neighbourhood because of what it looks like and what it does.
What do you consider the biggest issue facing our country today? How long have you got? A lack of respect for our neighbours and the spaces that we share. A distrust of experts and politicians when we need experts and politicians to sort out some of the big issues to deal with the really big issues such as climate change, care of the elderly and educational standards and aspirations.
And on a South Gloucestershire level? Being able to fund and manage social care adequately, and house and move people in a way that doesn’t destroy the local environment.
What about in your own ward? All the above applies to New Cheltenham; but keeping our roads safe and our traffic moving is a key local issue, along with protecting our green spaces.
What has been your proudest moment? Getting a good Ofsted report at a school where I was chair of governors and where the school had previously been through a very difficult period.
How do you relax? Quizzes, table tennis and red wine. I also present an occasional radio show on a university radio station and pretend that I’m still 19!
Where is your favourite place? Boston, an American city that feels a little bit British.
What’s the best thing about your ward? Our two good primary schools.
What's the worst thing? Selfish road users.