I moved to Falmouth 16 years ago, four weeks before my son was born and have lived here ever since.
As a former employment rights and trades union lawyer, when I moved to the area I volunteered at the Falmouth Citizens Advice Bureau. I then worked as a teaching assistant at Falmouth School for nearly 7 years while my son was in primary school.
I have been involved in the Labour Party for 27 years. I joined as a student because I believed in equality, a safety net that catches everyone when they fall and social justice. That still applies and is still what I understand the Labour Party to stand for.
In June 2017 I had the great honour of running as Labour's Parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Truro and Falmouth. After a tremendous campaign nationally and locally, we enjoyed the second biggest swing in the country. We only narrowly missed winning the seat.
Following the very sad death of Candy Atherton, I stood for the Cornwall Council seat for the Falmouth ward of Smithick. We enjoyed a 60% share of the vote. When Cornwall Council boundaries changed, I stood again in the larger division of Falmouth Penwerris and substantially increased my majority.
I was also elected to Falmouth Town Council in 2021 which is one of the largest town councils in Cornwall and the only majority Labour one. We are a very proactive town council and have taken on many of the services that Cornwall Council relinquished as austerity hit. We now run: parks and green spaces; the town toilets; the municipal buildings which we have converted into a venue and offices for local and community use; we own the Dracaena Youth Centre and Princess Pavilion which we are running as a community focused venue with a local food co-operative doing the catering and using the kitchens to cook for the town’s vulnerable.
I sit on numerous committees – Homelessness Action Groups, European Funding committees, Keep our NHS Public, Town council activities, the Learning Disabilities Partnership Board, Plastic Free Falmouth, Circular Falmouth, Transition Falmouth and I work with the local BID and town manager to represent businesses in Falmouth Town. I chair the town Placeshaping committee which is a Falmouth Town regeneration board consisting of elected representatives, businesses, and harbour board and commissioners. We have applied and been successful in obtaining grant funding to do regeneration planning and got an active travel grant to make the town centre more people friendly during Covid and provide new infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling in the town.
I ran a computers for schools campaign during the lockdown when people donated computers locally for children in Falmouth Schools who needed equipment. I also worked with my fellow Penwerris candidates to obtain and distribute over 1000 trees from the Woodland Trust for Falmouth. I support the Falmouth Food Co-operative, Salvation Army, True Butterflies, We are with You drug rehabilitation and outreach and others who help provide food and care for the people of Falmouth.
I also stood for the European Parliament in the Southwest in 2019 and was third on the list.
Since I was elected in 2018, I have devoted all my time to my Council role. My work while on Cornwall Council has included local casework – helping residents with housing issues, homelessness, noise and neighbours, problems with crime. I work with local youth centres, food banks, schools, Citizens Advice, advocating on behalf of traders and small businesses.
I am the leader of the Labour Group on Cornwall Council. I also carry out strategic work to make Cornwall better for residents, as well as my local work in Falmouth. Some of the Labour Group’s notable successes on Cornwall Council have been:
Declaring the Climate Emergency and committing to 2030 carbon neutrality were high profile Labour-led victories.
Proposing and winning a 2019 alternative budget to put £3.5 million towards mental healthcare in schools, the first ever successful budget challenge of this Council.
Successfully proposing a motion supporting Marcus Rashford’s campaign on child poverty stating that children of parents on Universal Credit should receive free school meals.
Bringing a council motion that led to a new Responsible Procurement Policy ensuring many council contracts now default to Cornish suppliers. Contractors are judged for the Social and Environmental Value that they provide to Cornwall.
We were prominent advocates of the adoption of the Foundation Living Wage, and the Ethical Care Charter, which improves the pay, terms and conditions of Cornish care workers.
Chairing the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Inquiry Report into the state of Cornish Private Rented Sector Housing with accepted recommendations on licensing, better treatment for renters and rent caps.
Chairing the Pensions Committee and fought for and achieved a new Responsible Investment Policy with commitments to drastically cut the amounts our Local Government Pension Fund invests in carbon.
On second homes, the Council has now voted twice on Labour motions to scrap the tax loophole for holiday lets and second homes, support a Council Tax Levy on second homes and redirect the money for the purpose of providing social housing.
I was also on the Tour of Britain working group that secured the first stage of the tour in Cornwall.
I sit on the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee scrutinising the provision of health and social care in Cornwall and I chair the Local Government Pension Scheme Committee.