What does a councillor do?

29 Nov 2021

We caught up with Councillor Craig Browne recently, to discuss life on the Cheshire East Council, and his work with the local community. Since his election in 2015, Craig has embraced village life.

Here at I Love Alderley Edge, we asked Craig the simple question ‘what does a councillor do’ – and his response was anything but! Have a read of what he had to say:

“This is a question I’ve been asked several times since I was elected in 2015. The evening immediately following my election, I asked the same question of myself – as well as wondering what on earth I’d let myself in for!

One thing I can say for sure is that nothing I’d done previously could have prepared me for what lay ahead.

At its most basic level – for me at least – being a councillor is about community action. That means looking at what needs doing, rolling up my sleeves and getting on with it. 

Sometimes this can be in the literal sense: for example, setting up a Community Speedwatch Group, or the Library Volunteers – but on other occasions, it’s about supporting and empowering others, such as through initiatives like Alderley Edge in Bloom.

Being a councillor is also about being visible, recognisable and approachable. One of the first things I did after being elected was set up a Community Surgery on the last Saturday of each month, where residents come along and share their concerns with me. Initially, my surgeries were held at Aldeli, but I moved them to the local library in 2018 in a show of support when it was threatened with closure.

But as much as being a councillor is about building partnerships with people and organisations locally, it’s also about developing positive relationships with officers at Cheshire East Council

council meeting

This can involve challenging existing ways of working – but in a way that recognises and respects officers as individuals and colleagues, as well as following due process.

Over the last few years, I believe this approach has paid dividends. I recently requested a list showing the number of highway repair projects ranked by town/parish within Cheshire East. In first place was Congleton – a town represented by no fewer than six Cheshire East Councillors – in second place was Crewe, the borough’s largest town; and in third place was Alderley Edge! I’m proud to have been able to secure this result for the village.

As a councillor, I see myself as a positive agent for change within the local community, as well as an advocate for all that is good about our village. Again, this might involve empowering our many excellent community groups, such as the RVS Luncheon Club, or perhaps helping the Churches Together team to deliver fish and chips to elderly or vulnerable residents during the pandemic.

councillor craig browne

Alongside this key role, however, what I also want to do as a councillor is “talk up” Alderley Edge as a fantastic place to live, work and do business. Alderley Edge is a wonderful village community and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the positives. The last two years have been difficult for all of us, but we mustn’t let our frustration with the situation nationally drift into feelings of negativity about where we live.

Planning applications are also an issue that exercises a lot of local ward councillors’ time. I always seek to represent residents as diligently and as fairly as I’m able, working within the confines of the planning process,of course, which is set nationally. As part of this responsibility, I call in many controversial applications to the planning committee to ensure they receive appropriate scrutiny.

councillor craig browne and volunteers

When I was elected back in May 2015, I acknowledged that I wouldn’t be able to please everyone all of the time, but I also said that I’d never give less than my absolute best as their councillor. I hope our local community will agree that I’ve kept this promise. I can only extend my apologies for the occasions when I haven’t pleased everyone all of the time, but it certainly hasn’t been through want of trying.

For this reason, and particularly as an independent councillor, I always seek to steer clear of debates that are obviously driven by party politics. The pantomime of the council chamber continues, but I endeavour to remain above such behaviour. When I do contribute to important debates, I take great care to ensure that my own comments are considered, calm and measured.

I’d like to thank residents for their ongoing support and assure the community of my continued commitment to serving our village to the best of my ability.”

Cllr Craig Browne (Independent)Alderley Edge Ward Councillor | Leader of the Independent Group | Deputy Leader of the Council


cheshire east council

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