Thoughts: Cllr Janet Gardner

I wish I could say that my workload decreased over the last year, but it hasn’t!

Being both a councillor for Botwell ward in Hayes and the Borough’s Domestic Violence Victims Advocate has meant that I have been very busy dealing with issues that impact all residents as well as the issues that specifically affect victims of Domestic Abuse, both of which increased over the last year.

Victims during lockdown had a very difficult time and rates of domestic abuse increased.

Victims of all forms of domestic abuse were locked in their homes with a controlling and unpredictable partner. Thankfully, I was able to support those who asked me for help and advice and they were given a variety of choices and many chose to move away to ensure they were safe. However, it always has to be the victim’s choice about what to do.

I made a point of doing a daily video when the first lockdown occurred just to ensure that at least once a day, the people I am helping through a variety of issues, knew they would see me waffling about boring mundane things, like my dog, the weather, cars racing round the streets. However, by popular demand I am still doing them because apparently they still amuse the great many people who receive them. Some try to work out what colour outfits and matching accessories I will be wearing (they are rarely correct). The videos give the recipients serious details at the end about who to contact (either myself or the Police) in the event of any problems they have or have witnessed.

Despite the pandemic, people in sub-standard and inadequate housing continued to need our help to pressurise the council into taking them seriously and take action where both necessary and appropriate, as well as those residents who were suffering from anti-social behaviour, and neighbourhood nuisance. Thankfully as Councillors we have our own computers and phones, so we are able to deal with virtually anything Council related that comes our way, despite the lockdowns. We are able to contact the Civic Centre by email 24/7, making sure that residents are heard by the Council.

I do a mini ward walk every morning, come rain, shine or Covid. I report items of concern, most of which is rubbish just dumped on the pavements by a few of the residents and shopkeepers who think it’s acceptable to do so. I’m sure you all agree with me that it most definitely is not.

Every weekend I go for a drive around the rest of the ward and make notes of issues I need to report to the council to resolve.

I love being a Councillor, every day is different and I love living in such a wide and diverse community. What more could I want?