- Councillor Janet Duncton, Chairman of West Sussex County Council and Member for Petworth
- Councillor Sujan Wickremaratchi, Member for Hayward’s Heath Town
- Councillor Chris Oxlade, Member for Bewbush and Ifield West
- Councillor Kirsty Lord, Member for Hassocks and Burgess Hill South
What inspired you to become a councillor?
My grandfather had been a councillor for Petworth Rural District Council and I thought the time had come when I would like to do something for my community and help with the community’s future There was an election and I stood and got on as a representative for Petworth - and I’ve been here ever since.
I became a County Councillor in 2013, and the main reasons for becoming one is; to serve the people of Hayward’s Heath - the town that I have lived in for the past 35 years.
What does it mean to be a county councillor?
I’ve just come out of my residents’ surgery, where I was talking with residents about a number of things, right from quite small issues around a tree on a particular residential street - through to things like Brexit.
The most rewarding thing about being a county councillor is actually being able to make a difference. So, from small things from people who have issues on their doorstep, to quite wide county-wide things that you can actually change and make a difference for.
We had somebody come in with a long-standing issue around highways relating to a planning application. We’ve seen them probably monthly for an update over the last six months or so. So, it’s a really useful way to meet people and catch up on some of the issues in the village.
The public role that you need to have is being a people’s person to start with. And to listen to the issues and understand the issues of the general public of your area. And that is key to being successful as a county councillor.
Is it possible to maintain a work-life balance?
Being a county councillor and working full time does have its challenges, but it’s all about managing your time really - I work four or five different jobs.
It isn’t always easy, because the most important thing in my life is my family. But I do have a lot of support at home. When I get back from council work, I’m very keen to sit in the garden.
When I was first approached by someone to stand as a county councillor - I didn’t think I would be able to do it. Because, I had three young children including a two-year-old - and I said no. But actually after a while, I realised it might work around my family life – and I have proved that it does actually.
So balancing all that, plus being a county councillor can be quite time-consuming, but as long as you plan your day and you plan your week - then it’s worth it.
I have most of my meetings in the daytime, which means I can fit them in around the school run at each end of the day, which is great, I get to spend that time with my family that I would anyway. Occasional evening meetings, but county council has childcare allowances for people in my situation so I can get the babysitting that I may need. It just seems to work pretty well with family life.
Am I what you’re looking for?
We have elections coming up soon for the county council, and it’s vital we have as much diversity and as many different people from different walks of life that stand to be elected for the people of West Sussex.
I lost my first election but that didn’t stop me from being determined to win, and I won the hearts of the people of Hayward’s Heath Town. So, I encourage all walks of life to come along, be a member and give it a go – it is rewarding.
Find out how to become a councillor at www.beacouncillor.co.uk/west-sussex