My advice would be just do it. Whilst there is a lot of hard work, there is also huge satisfaction.
I stood for election for the district council having spent a couple of years as a parish councillor. I had also been involved in fighting local speculative planning applications. The local community asked me to stand to represent their views. I won in a landslide unseating someone who was the then Leader of the district council. Residents wanted someone who would be their voice and who was one of them and they chose me. Which made me incredibly proud.
My advice for anyone considering standing would be just do it. Whilst there is a lot of hard work and frustration there is also huge satisfaction. I have made lifelong friends in fellow councillors and been able to be the community leader the residents wanted. They also say I am a breath of fresh air, I say it how it is and they know I always have time to talk. It is my community so it matters to me.
One of my proudest achievements so far was taking work done with our ecologist and planners on biodiversity enhancement to the Chartered Institute of Environmental and Ecological Management . We have led the way in improving wildlife enhancements through the planning system. I am also leading on innovative ways to crowdfund for community transport solutions. In addition I am passionate about Good Neighbour Networks and we are trailing new post-Covid groups across the district. Making real change to real people on the ground.
As a ward councillor I represent a rural ward. As council leader I lead a district that again is largely rural with market towns. The diversity of local communities is largely polarised by age, wealth and opportunities. We are the ones bringing innovation and challenge. We need to change how we do our business. Remove unnecessary formality, make meetings interesting and vibrant. Diversity is vital for local democracy.
Councillor Sarah Rouse, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, Independent