Transcript of Be a councillor video interview with Cllr Simon Bennett, Merry Hill Ward, City of Wolverhampton Council
Why did you become a councillor?
The draw for me to becoming a councillor, there were two aspects to it. There was the helping people with their issues and their problems, and also the political aspect of it as well - getting involved in campaigning on local issues with the local party that I represent.
What are the two best things about being a councillor?
The best two things, I think, about being a councillor is the fact that you can help people on a daily basis with their issues, and actually seeing the response from them. Whether it be a call or email, thanking you for the help that you’ve given them in resolving the issue, whatever that might be - they range. And also being able to go to local community events and working with local community groups on projects and events, those kind of things are two of the best things about being a councillor.
What is the most challenging thing about being a councillor?
A lot of the issues that you would deal with are bread-and-butter issues and day-to-day things that you could get done quite easily, whether it’s bin or trees. There are quite generic things that you’ll get, but sometimes you get those really difficult challenging cases where it could be around housing or real social issues that people have. Those can be quite distressing at times as well because of the stories that people tell you and the issues they raise with you. So I think that’s the most challenging thing is actually some of those really hard hitting cases where people are genuinely in dire need of help and support and which they haven’t had, for sometimes years.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of standing for election?
You might think, oh, that’s for somebody else, not for me. But actually you can actually make a real change as a councillor. You can affect real change and make differences on a big and small scale, depending on how far you want to take it and what you want to do as a councillor. There is plenty of opportunity and scope to actually get involved, make change. It is hard work to get there, to get the electorate to trust in you. And you’ve obviously got to find a unique selling point for yourself as well for people to buy into that. So the thing for me, is to find that unique selling point, find those single issues that matter to people and, you know, give real valuable promises and pledges to people that you can deliver on.
Lastly, what one thing sticks out for you about being a councillor?
The gratitude that you get from people when things have gone right, when you’ve been able to help them with their case and just seeing the tangible effects of your work really. So whether that be a road resurfaced or a pothole filled, a brand-new park, or maintained green space - anything really where you can tangibly see, those are the things that I think stick out in your mind and that you remember. And like I said, the contact you get from local residents when they thank you for the help that you’ve given them.