In her first few weeks as a Llandaff North councillor, Siobhan Corria reveals what she has been up to.
On 3rd May I was elected as a Labour Councillor for Llandaff North. It was a long time coming, I had been campaigning non stop since October 2010.
I became active within the Labour Party following the formation of the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster. I started campaigning for Julie Morgan in October 2010 as she was hoping to represent Cardiff North in the Welsh Assembly.
Once Julie was elected, I focused my efforts on winning my seat in Llandaff North in the local elections. With my co-candidate Dilwar Ali, we knocked thousands of doors across our ward. We spoke to residents on the doorsteps about the issues that needed addressing. We were visible in the community, fighting hard to regain the seats for Labour from the Liberal Democrats. The austerity measures being delivered by the ConDems in Westminster really spurred me on when I felt too tired to canvass, or if I felt like I hadn’t seen my children enough. I am a social worker in Newport and I see first hand how desperate some people’s lives can be. I felt I needed to get elected ensure good public services in Cardiff and make communities stronger and safer. I am an unashamed socialist and I could feel I would get elected if I worked hard to engage with residents and address their concerns.
Election day was stressful and busy, with lots of friends helping us by sitting on polling stations, knocking up the voters and even baking cake! We knew that we had to get our vote out throughout the day and early evening, however, we were also aware that Cardif City was playing at 7.45pm and we were cautious not to disturb people.
The count seemed to drag on for a lifetime and I was convinced we had lost to the Independents who peddled the motto ‘people not politics’. The relief when the count had concluded and Labour had won both seats was immense. It was also a bit daunting to think of the responsibility I had taken on. I was so pleased that I would be able to spend more time with my family as campaigning had seemed to take over my life. But it worked and I am now a Councillor for the first time.
In fact, Labour had managed to get 46 Councillors elected in Cardiff which meant we took control of the City. I’m not convinced anyone expected such a resounding win.
We met as a group the day after the election and elected group officers. In the days that followed although I had returned to work, I spent a great deal of time in the evenings sending emails, making contacts and generally planning the issues that needed immediate attention. I was not officially a Councillor until signed my declaration which I did one week after the election.
Once I had signed the declaration I could really crack on with the case work for Llandaff North. I visited residents in Lydstep Flats, addressed issues regarding Gabalfa Primary School, Llandaff North allotments and the bane of my life – fly tipping. I also attended the Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting where I reassured residents that we were newly elected Councillors, committed to working hard on behalf of every single resident.
I was also elected by the Labour group as the chair if the Children and Young. person’s Scrutiny Committee. I have to say this is my proudest achievement. I worked for eight and a half years as a youth justice officer in Cardiff before taking a social work post in the looked after children’s team in Newport City Council. I am passionate about improving the outcomes for children in Cardiff and I am determined my experience and skills are used to really ensure our services meet the needs of children and young people. I am determined to do my best.
My first full council meeting was an exciting experience. Whilst I knew it was a pretty straight forward AGM, I still felt nervous. But the end of it, I was dying to get up and speak. I feel so passionate about standing up for people, I can’t wait to ask my first question in council – to do my best to improve services and inevitably outcomes for the people of Cardiff. It’s my home city, where I was brought up and where I am bringing up my own children. I want to engage with people throughout the city so that the Labour Party can really provide services that people need and want. I don’t want to be a manager of austerity and I will not accept that people’s Standard of life should be compromised by the Tories and Libs in Westminster. I Will do my very best and make my trade unionist father proud by challenging injustice at every level.