Pitmen supporter and HTFCSA committee member Paul Woodhead was recently elected as a Cannock Chase District Councillor for Hednesford. You will see him around the ground most match days, usually as Pitman Pete and in the Strikers Bar after the game where you can talk to him about any matters or issues of concern.

In these articles I want to bring the role of the councillor alive to you and ensure I am accountable to you as the elected representative for the ward in which the football club resides. I will highlight some of the things I get involved with and the decisions the council makes on your behalf. I will be available after most home games for a general conversation and we can arrange a private discussion should that be appropriate. Alternatively you can contact me by phone on 07930 120077 or by email paul.woodhead@greenparty.org.uk

Like any other role to be undertaken in a professional and competent manner training and continuous professional development is key to delivering value and being an effective Councillor. To this end when first elected the Council officers do provide an induction process to help understand how council works and how to interact as a Councillor with the Council. I expanded this on my own initiative for a series of more detailed meetings covering a range of subjects from understanding how the individual services are delivered to a detailed briefing on the Council end of year accounts as well as topic based discussions arising from constituent questions for example how the Tree Preservation Order policy works.

Additionally, there is a wide range formal training available, mostly at a cost, as well as being bombarded by requests for seminars and similar always at a cost. I do believe that councillors can improve their effectiveness with development and commit to spending some time on appropriate courses and training days particularly if these are free. To this end, and to build upon the Council specific induction I have booked on to a further Council training day (Let’s Work Together) and attend Green Party Councillor training whether that is through our various conferences or, for example, attending the group meeting with Solihull Greens where we are the official opposition. Finally, I have accepted an invitation to a free, limited place course hosted by the Local Government Association as a cohort of “Next Generation Councillors” which takes place over three Friday and Saturday residential visits.

If we, as Councillors, are to be effective in our role for the public we serve it must be approached as a professional responsibility therefore I believe training and development is an important part of that development. With a bit of imagination and ingenuity this can be undertaken without being an undue burden on our Council Tax bill.