Shaun Blezard – Why did I become a councillor?

I, like many of my generation, became aware of and interested in politics during the miner’s strike in 1984. This was also the year I left school and started work in the shipyard in Barrow. It felt like a giant leap into the adult world, all this talk of politics and the workers. During my apprenticeship I had a journeyman who had more influence on me than the teachers at school. His name was Les Burns. He was a shop steward and explained politics, unions and such like, and made a lasting impression on me. I became a shop steward, stood on the picket line in 1988 and was then made redundant in 1993. It’s worth noting here that myself and the thousands of others who lost their jobs did so under a Conservative government.
After redundancy I wasn’t directly involved in politics but have worked in community music and the arts since 2000. Over the years I’ve come to realise how much we are losing with the destruction of the idea of community. Thatcher said “there is no such thing as society” that we are just a series of individuals who shouldn’t expect government to help us all the time. I just can’t agree with that. We pay in to the social pot with tax and national insurance, and, in a civilised society, those that do better look after those that need a hand.
Working with groups doing music and art together I see how that feeling of belonging and sharing has a massive, positive effect on us. Over the last two governments there has been a constant attack on our communities through cuts on those that can’t afford it. I joined the Labour Party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election, but also thought joining isn’t enough, I wanted to do something. I stood for Borough Council and have been representing Dalton South since May 2016.
This monthly column will try and shed some light on what I do as a councillor and hopefully explain what a council’s role is in our community. It takes a good while to learn the ropes of committees and briefings and how we can work with those we represent so join me as I learn how best to serve my community.
Cllr Shaun Blezard

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