Yorkshire First's first elected representative, Cllr Wayne Chadburn, outlines his progressive message for the future.
On Friday 10th April I found out that I had become Yorkshire First’s first elected councillor. Whilst I was really happy and excited, I was also a little depressed. I’d been elected for my ward on Penistone Town Council unopposed. Of the six seats available there were only six nominations. Of the 21 parish and town wards across Barnsley, only two had sufficient nominations to force an election. Whilst ecstatic at being a Yorkshire First town councillor, it also brought home to me the perceived lack of influence our town and parish councils have and hence the lack of interest for community minded individuals to get involved with them.
Local decisions are best made at local levels and our town and parish councils have a vital role to play in this. Our town and parish councillors receive no allowances to fulfil their role; they do it because of a love of their local community. Yorkshire First is determined to bring influence back to this more local level so that local people can take more responsibility for their communities.
I take up my seat formally on Monday 18th May at my first council meeting and it will be an incredibly proud moment for me personally and I hope for the party when I officially become one of the five councillors Yorkshire First have – an amazing achievement considering we were only formed a year ago. But we mustn’t rest on our laurels. I truly believe that Yorkshire First has an important role to play over the coming five years, particularly with devolution a big issue regionally and nationally. As a party, we have to go out and sell the message that decisions about Yorkshire should be made in Yorkshire at the most local level practicable whilst ensuring these decision makers are truly democratically accountable. However we should also ensure we do not become a ‘one issue party’ like the Greens and UKIP have been (and by some still are) considered. We need to continue to develop ideas that address our region’s ills. We’ve made a good start with our education and transport proposals but these need to be developed further alongside other positions.
I intend using my role on the town council to not only improve my town of Penistone, which I believe has so much potential, but also to raise the profile of Yorkshire First’s progressive message. Ove the next year I intend to campaign locally on the big issues that were raised to me as I personally delivered over 3000 leaflets to houses across the Penistone West ward whilst campaigning for the borough council elections. These issues are housing, broadband provision and the future of Penistone itself.
In the borough election I garnered 328 votes, a tad over 5% of the vote. Considering I’m a ‘commer-inner’ in Penistone (I’ve only lived here for 8 years being transported from the Rotherham side of South Yorkshire) representing a party which, as of yet, has a very low profile and during a general election year when double the number of people come out to vote in a much more polarised fashion than normal, I’m happy with the platform it gives me and Yorkshire First for the future.
It is now my job to push our progressive message to the good people of Penistone and show that local activism can produce real progress for a town like Penistone without damaging its unique character.