Transcript of Be A Councillor video interview with Cllr Ian Brookfield: Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council
My name’s Ian Brookfield and I am currently the leader of the council. Obviously, the leader of the Labour group, which is the group with majority control. I was first elected as a councillor in 1995, so another century ago seems weird when you say it like that.
What inspired you to become a councillor?
We’ve lived here myself and my wife for 35 years now. The minute we come down here a gentleman knocked me door. Good friend of mine Peter Bilson, sadly who’s is no longer with us, and we just got chatting. And with such a good chatter he was, that within 24 hours I was joining him going around knocking on people’s doors and trying to get them to vote.
What advice would you give to someone looking to be a counsellor?
When I joined a political party that usually you know 99% of that was really the only way of becoming a councillor. It does give you access to resources, people, knowledge to help you on that road. But you’ll find that most political parties don’t just say ‘Oh you’re new today, you will do’. There does have to be some groundwork. You can do it another way you can just put yourself up, the road is more difficult because you haven’t got that organisation behind you.
What skills make a good councillor?
First and foremost, I think you’ve got to be a people person, you’ve got to be able to talk to the people you represent. It’s not always easy, everybody’s not going to love you. You will be challenged, you’ll be challenged in public meetings, you’ll be challenged on social media.
So those people skills are absolutely vital.
So time management because you’re right, you’ve got your work, you’ve got your family, you’ve got this, you could have a hobby as well, you could follow the football which many people do. And to squeeze that into a week, is not always easy. Always make sure your family come first, that’s absolutely right, never put your family in jeopardy and then work from there.
You can squeeze it in, it will be busy weeks. You do get some breaks, let’s be honest about it. Summer is quieter. But that time management is absolutely vital.
What attributes make a good councillor?
I say, if you’ve got that spirit of helping other people there, then this is a perfect opportunity to do that. You know you’ll laugh, cry, be angry. You know, you’ll go through the whole range of emotions while doing it. But the underlying thing about that is you’re pleased to be doing it, you like to help people.
A thank you here and a thank you there. You don’t get many, you know, politicians aren’t high up on the list of people that general public like, but on an individual basis, most people will say thank you and remember what you’ve done for them. So that’s the underlying reason why I should imagine we all do. It’s certainly why I do it, it’s just a general openness to help people.