As a Suffolk born, educated and bred resident, it was a real honour to be asked to join Suffolk County Council’s cabinet as the new member for equality and communities. 

In the year ahead, the county council will embark upon a bold and inclusive reform of our funding to the voluntary sector by replacing core funding to nine organisations to one based upon project funding that is more widely available to community groups and charities of every size. 

This is something that is close to my heart insofar as when I was a youngster, I witnessed how my parents, along with a group of volunteers, helped restore a former social club on the former Horham aerodrome in north Suffolk that became the highly successful Red Feather Club museum. 

Suffolk County Council is acutely aware of the role such groups play in our county to community life and bringing communities together, whether they be rural or urban, old or young, diverse or homogenous.

As with most households across Suffolk, the county council has faced very difficult decisions in setting its budget for the year ahead.  One of those decisions was the consolidation of the Archive Service.

We will however soon be convening local stakeholder groups and working with communities around Bury St Edmund’s and Lowestoft as it is important to bring our communities with us in deciding, where possible, which items that are loved, such as the Bury St Edmund’s Pslater, can remain in their current locations.

Suffolk is a county of many talents and rich in community involvement, commerce and skills.  This very success is rooted in the Suffolk belief that no one should be stopped from getting on in life based on their identity, namely age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion, pregnancy and parenthood or sexual orientation. 

Having once been the victim of discrimination and being able to overcome this through the amazing support of Relate on St Margaret’s Green in Ipswich, I hope to champion the cherished British and Suffolk value of fair play with empathy.

My greatest honour remains being elected to serve my division of Sudbury East and Waldingfield since 2021.  Representing a predominantly rural division, isolation is an issue that I am looking forward to combating during my tenure as the cabinet member for equality and communities. 

At first glance, some may consider this to be an issue exclusively facing rural Suffolk however   during my previous capacity as deputy cabinet member for transformation, a report centred on digital inclusion identified that some of our urban areas in Suffolk face their own challenges with isolation.  These will be at the heart of my work.

Very often council meetings at Endeavour House are regarded by some as the main parts of the Suffolk County Council diary. 

For me, however, my most enjoyable activity as a local councillor is attending local events in my division, meeting residents, as well as working closely with parish and town councils and residents. 

In doing so, it has confirmed that my division nor Suffolk is one community, but a community of communities with local identities and priorities.  With this comes the need for, where possible, equality in decision-making and conscientiousness in casework. 

It is in that same spirit that I look forward to working with the communities that make up our special county that we all call home.