Civilised society should be embarrassed by Britain’s social care system – leading economist tells Thaxted Labour meeting

Report on the talk by Dame Kate Barker – former government adviser on housing and health care and ex-member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee – at the Saffron Walden Constituency Labour Party All-Member Meeting, Thaxted 13 September 2018

Kate Barker began her talk by quoting a recent survey which found that 50% of people in England believe that social care, like most NHS services, is free. In fact it is actually means-tested. Many people therefore only discover the reality of the costs involved when the need for social care impacts on themselves and their families. However, although the demand for social care is growing in our society, with people living longer but developing longer-term health issues including dementia, governments of all parties have failed to create and fund the policies needed to address the issues adequately.

In 2014 Dame Kate produced a report for the King’s Fund think-tank entitled: ‘A new settlement for Health and Social Care.’ It made a number of recommendations, including the need for adequate funding, as well as integrating health care and social care in order to deliver coordinated services and rationalise the funding of the whole offering.

The main recommendations have not so far been taken up by government, and health care continues to be delivered through a centrally-funded NHS, while social care costs are borne by local authorities. This produces startling anomalies, whereby for instance treatment and care for cancer patients is correctly seen as an entitlement, while care for dementia most often has to be paid for by individuals and families when local authority funding falls short. NHS funding is ring-fenced, while social care funding is not. The organisations are separate and generally have different workforces.

When the NHS was established after World War 2, social care was less of an issue as people didn’t live as long as now, and ageing relatives tended to be cared for at home by younger female relatives. The NHS still tends to be regarded as unassailable, and issues around its funding and operation all too often deflect attention from the problems surrounding social care and the resources needed there.

The King’s Fund report panel listened to many ‘experts by experience’ – many of them people who had social care needs which were not being adequately met. Their testimony was often moving and pointed to systemic failings in delivery and its funding. During a discussion session at the meeting, several Labour members described situations within their own families which reflected the same problems of accessing and funding adequate care for their relatives, and the need to raise funds from family assets to cover care.

So the needs and the problems are stark, and this is coming home to people all the time throughout the country. And yet government still fails to grasp the social care nettle, despite pledges made during election campaigns.

Following the 2015 general election, the Government postponed for an uncertain period the implementation of the report commissioned from Sir Andrew Dilnot, which recommended protecting families from catastrophic social care costs (above £72,000). To fund the better care recommended in the King’s Fund report would cost at least £3bn annually now, rising to an estimated £5bn by 2025.

Kate Barker said: “The worrying aspect of the present debate is the focus on helping those who have some financial resources, rather than on extending care to those with limited resources whose needs are not being met – Age UK estimate these number 1.2 million.

“A civilised society should be embarrassed about this and prepared to share the burden of risk in social care as we do in health.  In addition, cuts in local authority funding has led to those in more deprived areas being less likely to receive support.”

She went on: “There is a stark divide between those with their own assets, and those with none, which the government is failing to address. In addition, local authorities, faced with the need to fund social care for the elderly in particular, have often been compelled to respond by cutting back on services for younger people, including those with housing, social and mental care needs.”

Over recent years a number of reports have put forward concrete proposals, including making pathways to care clearer, ensuring people can easily access information about entitlement, issuing personal care budgets to fund people’s needs, and free social care for those with the most critical needs.

The possibilities of compensating for social care funding by charging for some NHS services have not been taken up, even though this already applies to areas such as prescriptions, dental care and vision care.

Changes to taxation and National Insurance could also raise funds for social care, but are seen as no-go areas by a Government determined to keep taxation low to appeal to its electorate. In addition we already need to fund the promises to the NHS, which often succeeds in shouting more loudly than social care. But with the numbers over 85 requiring round-the-clock care expected to double by 2035, effective action must not be postponed again and the Green Paper due out this autumn must be a full response to the social care crisis.

Call for Overhaul of Residents’ Parking in Saffron Walden

Road safety and congestion are being made worse due to the expansion of residents’ parking in Saffron Walden, prompting local Labour activist Simon Trimnell to call for a review.

Simon Trimnell has pointed to residents parking in Catons Lane as an area of concern with parents voicing increasing alarm at parking problems as they drop their children off to school.

Said Simon, “I have spoken with parents with children at St Mary’s school who have called Little Walden Road a death trap while the road’s residents complain that it has caused parking problems as cars are displaced by residents parking on Catons Lane.

“More parking along Little Walden Road is disrupting sight lines for drivers as they turn onto the road, so they have to pull right out into a busy road with fast traffic. They have already seen one accident that they claim is caused by this problem. It’s also a road used by school children cross from Pound Walk to St Mary’s and it’s very difficult for parents to see around the parked vehicles.

“There needs to be a complete review of parking in Saffron Walden so that the needs of residents and visitors are met and our roads are safe. If residents parking is not working, then a better long-term solution should be found. Imposing a parking tax on some roads and displacing cars onto others is not working.”

Under-45s are Turning to Labour Due to Tory Failure – Labour Housing Spokesman Tells Local Meeting

John Healey in Mountfitchet estate, Stansted, with local Labour Party members

Labour’s Party’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey attacked Tory policies for failing to build enough social housing for local people during a visit to Saffron Walden constituency on Thursday (12 July). With the number of households on Uttlesford’s council house waiting list approaching 1,000, he said Uttlesford District Council “should deal with those at risk of being made homeless, because it offends people no matter how they vote that we have people without homes, particularly children.”

After meeting residents on the Mountfitchet estate in Stansted, Mr Healey told a packed local Labour party meeting, “The average monthly rent in this area is over £1,000, yet the average full-time weekly wage is under £500. No wonder that people with no family wealth behind them are struggling. No wonder that young people who grow up here and want to stay here simply can’t afford to either rent or to buy.

“The Tory record on housing is one reason why they did so badly in the last general election. Since they got into government, home ownership has declined to a 30 year low with a million fewer under-45s owning their own home than in 2010. No wonder so many under-45s turned against the Tories and switched to Labour at the last election.

“It’s Conservative ideology as much as Conservative policy that is failing to produce the answers that are needed. It’s only Labour that can come up with the ideas and the alternatives, the programme of action that’s going to be needed to help solve the housing crisis.

“For private renters, the situation is urgent. There’s 1.3 million households with families trying to raise children in houses in which they could be kicked out with less than two months without having breached the terms of their tenancy. This is the single biggest cause of homelessness.”

In addition to Labour’s national housing policies to freeze right-to-buy and support massive investment in council housing, Saffron Walden Labour Party is calling for realistic policies at Uttlesford District Council:

  • Create a voluntary landlords’ register so that private renters can choose to rent their homes from responsible landlords.
  • Establish a private tenants’ association to give private renters a voice and the ability to collectively organise for better conditions
  • Set up a landlords’ co-operative so that landlords can avoid the high charges from private lettings agencies and tenants can get a fairer deal. Uttlesford District Council should also establish a not-for-profit lettings agency.
  • 60% of housing in new garden communities in the local plan should be genuinely affordable by indexing them to average local wages, with council housing making up half this target.
  • All affordable housing should be based on modern “zero carbon” and safety standards.
  • Viability assessments for all housing developments should be publicly available.
  • Covenants should be put on the leases of all future properties sold under Right to Buy, prohibiting leaseholders from renting them out at anything above affordable rent.
  • Set up a local commission to examine innovative debt models, such as social housing bonds, as well as Public Works Loan Board borrowing and co-investment with asset managers to invest in social housing stock under council control.

Labour believes that by adopting these policies, by 2033 the planned garden community developments alone should yield 570 new council houses in North Uttlesford, 540 in Easton Park and 290 in West of Braintree with a similar number of affordable houses with different tenures and ownership options. This would ensure that garden communities would deliver affordable housing for 2,800 households with local families given the highest priority.

Daniel Brett, Saffron Walden Labour Party housing spokesman, said: “Labour believes that strong communities are based on families. Nationally and locally, the Tories have failed to deliver. Uttlesford is now dialling down its affordable housing target for garden communities in the local plan from 60 percent to 40 percent, subject to viability assessments that could drive the numbers down further.

“Our community’s young people are being pushed out of the district due to soaring housing costs and low wages, which is breaking family and community bonds. While other parties are arguing with each other over where to put housing, only Labour is arguing the case for building communities for the many and not the few and putting forward policies that are both radical and credible.”

Uttlesford has seen a net loss of more than 60 council properties since 2010 as right-to-buy has eroded the council’s housing stock. In 2017, despite 21 new social houses being built, 16 council homes were sold and 12 were demolished – a net loss of seven council houses. The proportion of the district’s housing stock in UDC ownership has fallen from 9.0 per cent in 2009 to 7.8 per cent in 2017. The number of social houses is increasingly provided by private registered providers who often sell what is supposed to be social rented housing on the market at a profit.

Kemi Badenoch Risking Local Economy By Supporting Hardliner Tory Group

Saffron Walden Constituency Labour Party has hit out at local MP Kemi Badenoch for supporting a hard Brexit group that is causing chaos in the Tory party, disrupting the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU and putting local jobs in peril.

Jane Berney, Saffron Walden CLP parliamentary spokesperson, said: “The resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson have only served to highlight the utter chaos that is the Tory government’s handling of Brexit.

“Whatever you may think of Brexit, the role of the UK government is to seek the best deal for all of us, not to be side-tracked by the divisions within their own party.

“It is not just the national government that needs to be held to account, where is our MP Kemi Badenoch in all this?  We know that she is a member of the European Research Group which favours a hard Brexit: by their lack of support for Mrs May she and they are only adding to the chaos.

“The local economy is anchored by the Stansted Airport and the life sciences sector, which are all highly exposed to the EU market and depend on access. Collapse of our biggest employers will have a domino effect across the constituency, affecting small and medium sized enterprises that supply them with goods and services.

“By participating in the ERG, Ms Badenoch’s championing of hard Brexit is a pledge of economic suicide for her constituency in the pursuit of a failed ideological crusade.”

Tackling Declining Council Housing Should Be At The Heart Of The Local Plan

Now that the Local Plan is moving to the next stage following a council vote to go to public consultation, Saffron Walden Labour Party has called on Uttlesford District Council to put social housing at the centre of its housing strategy.

Uttlesford has seen a net loss of more than 60 council properties since 2010 as right-to-buy has eroded the council’s housing stock. In 2017, despite 21 new social houses being built, 16 council homes were sold and 12 were demolished – a net loss of seven council houses. The proportion of the housing stock in council ownership has fallen from 9.0 per cent in 2009 to 7.8 per cent in 2017.

Social housing is increasingly provided by ‘private registered providers’ who often sell what is supposed to be social rented housing on the market at a huge profit. An example is Hill House in Saffron Walden’s High Street, which consisted of low-rent housing association flats but is being turned into luxury apartments.

Daniel Brett, Saffron Walden Labour Party housing spokesman, said: “Labour believes that well-planned new towns with sufficient local employment opportunities are crucial to building genuinely affordable housing. Uttlesford must resolve its own broken housing market, address years of failed council policy on employment and do its bit to address the national housing crisis. The new garden communities are the best option and can help reduce the unplanned urban sprawl along arterial roads that cut through villages such as Newport, Takeley and Little Canfield.

“Local income growth is falling behind both inflation and local housing costs due to Uttlesford District Council’s failed economic development strategy. In 2017, the median wage paid in Uttlesford was £29,493, which represented a massive decline of nearly £1,100 since 2013 after accounting for inflation. Add into that local house prices with average housing prices roughly 12 times average local wages. Uttlesford needs a strategy to help deliver higher wages, more local employment and lower house prices to improve standards of living.

“Our community’s young people are being pushed out of the district due to soaring housing costs and low wages while those in retirement on fixed income pensions are also struggling. Local statistics show that 60 per cent on the council waiting list require one-bedroom accommodation with more than half of these eligible for housing for the over-60s. Yet, just a fifth of council stock is one bedroom. This imbalance needs to be addressed.”

Saffron Walden Labour Party is calling for the following measures:

  • The Tenants Forum – an elected body representing local tenants and leaseholders at the council’s Housing Board – should be at the heart of discussions in the next stage of the local plan.
  • The local authority should develop affordable housing that reflects local wages and universal credit and not indexed to market prices.
  • The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) definition of garden cities should be included as policy, which means a commitment to most new houses as affordable (60-70 per cent), half of which should be socially rented.
  • All social rented accommodation delivered in these garden communities should be owned by the local authority.
  • Ambitious Development Planning Documents (DPD) for distinctive garden settlements including high quality housing with low carbon, low water consumption, as well as plenty of amenity land and cycleways that directly connect with public transport.
  • Our member of parliament should be active in campaigning for changes to planning laws that ensure: viability assessments do not undermine affordable housing targets; the council can expand its housing stock without attrition from right-to-buy; and that other agencies have the funds to deliver the healthcare, education, roads and public transport that new communities need to be sustainable and successful.

LABOUR CALL FOR AFFORDABLE LOANS FOR CHILDCARE

Saffron Walden Labour Party is calling on Uttlesford District Council to partner with a local credit union to introduce an affordable childcare loan for local parents so that they can return to work without ending up out of pocket.

Currently, parents who meet the qualifying rules may be able to get up to 85% of their childcare costs with a maximum of 85% of £760.42 per month for one child (£646.35) or £1,303.57 (£1,108.04) per month for two or more children.

In Saffron Walden Labour’s proposed childcare loan scheme, Uttlesford could act as reinsurers, protecting credit unions from the risk of loan default to maintain their involvement. The council could also contribute towards the administrative costs of running the scheme as well as act as intermediary between claimants and the lender.

Labour spokesperson Jane Berney said: “We want to incentivise work and support parents. Many women want to go back to work after having children but find local childcare too expensive. A low-cost loan with a long repayment period would help local working families. We believe this innovative, yet common-sense approach should receive cross-party support at UDC.

“The advantage of using credit unions as opposed to commercial insurers is that they emphasise best value for stakeholders, whereas commercial operations seek to maximise profits for shareholders and investors. A partnership between Uttlesford, a credit union and parents requiring childcare loans would emphasise meeting needs, as opposed to profit chasing.

“While non-performing loan rates are likely to be higher than the market average due to the insecurity of work and low incomes, such a scheme would pay for itself in the long-term by helping working parents to get back into work and raise their income levels. Ultimately, this would reduce the welfare costs and create a net benefit in terms of tax revenue.”

In Uttlesford, according to the childcare.co.uk website, average nursery costs are around £750 per month for children in full-time childcare, so the maximum that a Universal Credit claimant can receive in support is £637.50 for one child. This leaves parents needing to find £112.50 per month in costs, equating to over 14 hours work per month on the minimum wage. It amounts to an annual cost of £1,350, a cost that some low-income families would struggle to meet. Families with more than one child would be even worse off with a family with two children in childcare requiring an extra £392 per month, the equivalent of over £4,700 per annum.

KEMI BADENOCH’S CYBER-ATTACK: SAFFRON WALDEN LABOUR CALLS FOR MP’S SUSPENSION AND INVESTIGATION

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch made an astonishing admission that she hacked into a Labour opponent’s website in an interview with the Mail on Sunday published on 8 April.

Recently appointed Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party with responsibility for candidate selection, she said she launched the cyber-attack to sabotage material on a Labour opponent’s website in what she claimed was a “foolish prank”. Conservative HQ has put it down to “youthful exuberance”, although she committed the crime when she was 28.

Tom van de Bilt, secretary of Saffron Walden Labour Party, said: “What Ms Badenoch has described doing is a shocking breach of the Computer Misuse Act: a criminal offence punishable by custodial sentence.

“The Cambridge Analytica revelations show how vital it is that political campaigns stay within the law.  Tory attempts to make light of this as not ‘proper hacking’ because it relied on guessing a password miss the point.

“The seriousness of the offence comes from the effect on the victim and on the reputation of our democracy, not the skill level of the offender.

“Given the current climate of concern around cybercrime, and especially in relation to electoral campaigning, Saffron Walden Labour Party further ask that local Conservatives condemn the hacking of opponents’ websites and urge Conservatives in parliament to withdraw the whip while the matter is urgently investigated.”

Since this press release was issued, the Labour MP whose website was hacked has been identified as Harriet Harman, who was then deputy leader of the Labour Party, Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Women and Equalities. She has accepted an apology from Kemi Badenoch.

In response, local Labour party secretary Tom van de Bilt said: “In accepting an apology Harriet Harman has been gracious in the extreme and I accept her prerogative as the victim if she wishes a line to be draw under the matter.  However, for Kemi’s constituents this apology will do little to alleviate concerns about her personal judgement a mere two years before first standing for parliament herself; nor does the flippant manner in which she disclosed it give much confidence in her commitment to tackling cybercrime today.

“Failure to discipline Kemi Badenoch, both within the law and through Conservative party procedures, is a green light to illegally disrupt the work of opposition parties in a democracy. It would also show the Conservatives’ ‘respect agenda’ to be empty rhetoric.”

Kemi Badenoch: Misrepresenting Saffron Walden Labour Over Free School Meal Cuts

Walden Local, 21 March 2018

In this week’s Walden Local, local Tory MP Kemi Badenoch accused the local Labour party of lying over changes to free school meals eligibility, but totally misrepresented our position.

Kemi Badenoch said: “Labour’s claims are lies. No-one who is currently eligible for free school meals under Universal Credit will lose their entitlement.”

FACT: Saffron Walden Labour Party never said that entitlement would be stripped from current claimants. We stated: “It will not affect those currently on free school meals where they are in the school system (eg primary or secondary school), but will impact on struggling local families in the future. Labour had pushed to maintain free school meals for children of those on universal credit, as is currently the case under transition arrangements, but was defeated in parliament.” Labour’s general election position was to extend free school meals eligibility to all school children so that no children are left behind.

Saffron Walden Labour Party also pointed out that the changes could affect the future “pupil premium” given to schools for children on free school meals. This is worth tens of thousands of pounds for some local primary schools. Our MP chose not to answer this point.

Kemi Badenoch said: “Under Universal Credit 50,000 more children will receive free school meals than would have done under the old system.”

FACT: Saffron Walden CLP pointed out that automatic entitlement – as is currently the case – will end for all new Universal Credit recipients from 1 April and means-testing will be introduced, ending free school meals for those earning over £7,400. Universal Credit was rolled out in Uttlesford in October and in Chelmsford in December. All those moved to Universal Credit were entitled to free school meals for their children, yet the Tories want to deny it to future children in these districts.

Analysis by the Children’s Society and Child Poverty Action Group shows that once universal credit is fully rolled out, almost 300,000 low-income working parents in England will be excluded from free school meals for their children.

The Children’s Society states that: “Up to now the Government has allowed all claimants on Universal Credit to receive free school meals. Introducing the proposed net earnings threshold of £7,400 represents a huge step backwards from this position.

“A million children in poverty will miss out on a free school meal under the Government’s proposal. Children are going hungry at school and the Government is missing a golden opportunity to address this.”

If it was such a good policy, why did our MP vote for a £7,400 cap on earnings for free school meals availability in her own constituency, but voted to cap it at £14,000 in Northern Ireland? It is simply a deal to keep Conservative allies the Democratic Unionists happy and Theresa May’s weak and wobbly government in power. It has nothing to do with fairness.

Kemi Badenoch claimed that Channel 4’s Fact Check “completely rebutted” the position Labour has taken, which is based on research by the country’s eminent children’s charities.

FACT: Channel 4’s Fact Check states exactly the points we have made in our press release. It says: “The government’s plan to introduce a means test to free school meals will reduce the total number of children who are entitled to free school meals to 1 million. Assuming a 65 per cent take up rate, that means only about 650,000 children will be getting a free hot meal at school.

“In short: if everyone on Universal Credit were entitled to free school meals, then by the time it was rolled out across the country, 1.8 million children would have a free school meal every day. The new means test will see only about 650,000 children on free school meals. That’s a difference of just over a million.”

Channel 4’s Fact Check simply pointed out – as Saffron Walden Labour Party did – that those currently receiving free school meals will not be affected by the changes.

Saffron Walden Labour Party requests a full and public apology from Kemi Badenoch for misrepresenting its position on the removal of free school meals eligibility for future local school children.

Research by Saffron Walden Labour Party finds that over 300 children in the constituency currently benefit from free school meals, based on Schools Guide data. Even under current arrangements for universal credit, many children living in poverty do not qualify for free school meals or their parents have not taken up the scheme. Poverty levels are a lot higher than free school meals take-up with over 3,000 children in poverty across the constituency in 2017, according to the End Child Poverty Coalition statistics.

Kemi Badenoch should start representing the poorest in our community who are suffering under years of Tory austerity, instead of dismissing any criticism of her voting record as a “personal attack”. She should stop taking offence and start working to alleviate poverty for the worst off .

Hundreds of local children face cuts to future free school meals eligibility

Saffron Walden Labour Party has hit out at local MP Kemi Badenoch’s vote to slash free school meal eligibility, claiming that it will plunge hundreds of local school children into poverty when the plans come into force under benefit reforms.

From 1 April 2018, free school meal eligibility will only apply to children of those earning under £7,400 on top of the new universal credit. It will not affect those currently on free school meals where they are in the school system (eg primary or secondary school), but will impact on struggling local families in the future. Labour had pushed to maintain free school meals for children of those on universal credit, as is currently the case under transition arrangements, but was defeated in parliament.

Saffron Walden Labour Party schools spokesman Simon Trimnell, who is father to two local school children, said: “Saffron Walden constituency is always described as wealthy, but there are several pockets of poverty.

“The cost of living is very high and rising fast with food and housing costs growing faster than earnings. You need to earn a lot more than £7,400 on top of benefits to survive.

“Kemi Badenoch has voted to remove free school meals eligibility for hundreds of children in the future.

“Lots of children living in poverty will not have free school meals. Labour supports free school meals for all children, funded by tax on private school fees, to improve nutrition and education for all children.”

Research by Saffron Walden Labour Party finds that over 300 children in the constituency currently benefit from free school meals, based on Schools Guide data. Even under current arrangements for universal credit, many children living in poverty do not qualify for free school meals or their parents have not taken up the scheme. Poverty levels are a lot higher than free school meals take-up with over 3,000 children in poverty across the constituency in 2017, according to the End Child Poverty Coalition statistics.

Labour believes the worst affected area locally will be Stansted South ward, which has consistently had the highest rate of child poverty in the district, estimated at 26.2% in 2017, according to the End Child Poverty Coalition.

Free school meals are available to children whose parents are on income support, job seeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and universal credit. Universal credit will soon replace all the other benefits.

Under the new system, once a family with one child passes the £7,400 mark, they would need to earn an extra £1,000 a year, working 2.4 hours more each week at the national living wage, to cover the cost, according to the Children’s Society which says a million children nationwide will lose out.

Schools also receive a ‘pupil premium’ worth £1,350 per primary school child and £935 per secondary pupil eligible under this scheme to tackle educational under-achievement among low income groups.

There are fears local schools’ pupil premium funding will be threatened with cuts in free school meals eligibility.

Based on data from the Saffron Walden Labour Party has identified the schools likely to see the biggest impact on removal of free school meals:

  • Stansted’s Forest Hall School could see dozens of children from low income families potentially being made ineligible for free school meals. Nearly one in six children attending the school currently qualify for free school meals with data suggesting the school receives over £55,000 of funding under the pupil premium.
  • Stansted St Mary’s primary school and Takeley’s primary school have relatively high free school meals ratios at 9.4%. According to Labour’s estimates, they receive at least £36,400 and £48,100 in FSM-based pupil premium, respectively.
  • In Saffron Walden, Katherine Semar and St Marys schools have FSM ratios of 9.4% and 8.1%. Around 45 children in the town are currently eligible for free school meals.
  • At Great Dunmow St Marys, 29 children (6.9% of the total) currently receive free school meals
  • While most smaller settlements have very low levels of FSM eligibility, Thaxted Primary stands out with 7.2% of pupils currently receiving meals under the scheme. Thaxted also has a relatively high child poverty rate with one in five children living below the poverty line.
  • Primary schools in the Chelmsford portion of the constituency will also lose out with the percentage of children currently qualifying averaging around 9.7%. Labour estimates over 90 children currently receive free school meals in these schools.

 

 

Labour Councillor Elected Deputy Mayor Of Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden’s deputy mayor-elect Cllr Arthur Coote (left) with Labour activist Simon Trimnell

Labour councillor Arthur Coote was elected deputy mayor of Saffron Walden for 2018/19 by nine votes to seven on Monday, coming ahead of Conservative councillor Sam Goddard.

Cllr Coote was elected in 2015 as Labour councillor for Saffron Walden Castle Ward, the first Labour councillor in the town for many years.

Although the only Labour councillor on the town council, his election is an acknowledgment by fellow councillors from other parties of his reputation as a hard-working councillor and a champion for residents’ concerns.