2018 has not been the best of years - and I don't just mean Brexit.
It ended sadly with the passing of our former leader Paddy Ashdown, who inspired me to become a Liberal Democrat and who gave so much support to both me and to Annette in her time as a cllr and MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole.
Life as a Poole Councillor has been fairly stressful, as we see the formation of the new councils and our ability as opposition councillors to have a meaningful impact on how local democracy looks in the new organisations. We are doing all we can to ensure that the views of local people are heard by the powers that be, and of course to work within our own communities to improve the lives of individual families and to support community issues.
Life at home as been just as tricky - my redundancy in the summer leading to the decision to go it alone and start my own business ... giving me the flexibility to campaign when I need to and work around my family. We have also seen family illness throughout 2018 which makes me more thankful than ever for the wonderful NHS, but I have also seen the toll long waits and targets have on those who don't fit neatly into a diagnostic box.
Sometimes it has been difficult to stay positive, to see a future where our schools are well funded, where ambulances arrive on time, where our children's opportunities are better than those we had and where the elderly and sick have dignity in their care.
It's not been all doom and gloom though - we all enjoyed the Royal Wedding (oh my goodness what a sermon!) and the World Cup (I always loved Gareth Southgate!) - and at home I have enjoyed Isaac's performances in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Peter Pan, as well as the girls athletic endeavours, especially Molly's epic bike ride from here to Pontypool in Wales.
We marked 100 years of Women getting the vote for the first time and I was thrilled to be reselected as your Parliamentary Candidate. I was privileged to be invited by Sir Graham Watson to join the inaugural Brighton Circle through which I will be working with the human rights organisation Friedrich Naumann Foundation to challenge populism in the UK whilst a team from Mid Dorset had the most uplifting day at the People's Vote March in October.
Who would have thought that this would be an occasion for suncream and leprechauns - and who can forget the sound of small children and pensioners chanting that famous phrase Bo**ox to Brexit together as we walked through the centre of the city.
It was with great sadness that we heard that our former Party Leader and friend Paddy Ashdown had died yesterday. He announced that he was battling cancer just a couple of months ago and was adamant that his story warranted no special treatment, that he was lucky and that we should all just get on with what we were doing.
This was so typical of Paddy's attitude and I am sure many of you will have memories of the great man, whose leadership first inspired me to vote Liberal Democrat in the 1990s - in particular his call for 1p on Income Tax for Education.
A huge thanks to all the residents who came to see ‘democracy in action’ at Poole Council last night, and an even bigger apology for what they witnessed. The arguments made by the 49 questioners about the impact of the Local Plan on Green Belt were well made and fair, but some of the responses by the portfolio holder were disrespectful and disingenuous.
The Poole Local Plan is an important document but paraphrasing from another topic ‘No Local Plan is better than a Bad Local Plan’ and areas including the inclusion of Green Belt, inadequate sustainable transport policies and inaccurate data means that it should have been voted down. The attempts to stop my motion through bullying and closing down debate were shocking, but not surprising.
Picture shows the site according to Richborough Estates of land known as UE1
Local campaigner Vikki Slade selected to as Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
A packed meeting on Saturday afternoon saw Cllr Vikki Slade selected, from a strong field of candidates, to represent the Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats at the next General Election. Vikki is fully committed to serving all residents within the Mid Dorset and North Poole constituency.
Broadstone Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to stop Poole Council ripping out a safe crossing island and replacing it with a zebra crossing on Lewesdon Drive.