Image above: Amy Croft
Interview with Amy Croft, newly elected Labour councillor for Chiswick Riverside
Amy Croft, 46, mother of two teenagers, living in Feltham north, was just getting off the Docklands Light Railway to go to work when she heard she had been elected as a councillor for Chiswick Riverside ward.
She was due at work at 8.30am, which is just about when the declaration was made, after a third recount. She had stayed at the count at Twickenham rugby stadium until just before 5am on Friday morning but at that point had to bale, in order to get to work on time.
“Yes I am surprised to have been elected” she told The Chiswick Calendar.
“I’m not going to lie, I was very shocked and I am under no illusion that it was anything to do with me, it reflects the national picture. The current government is on a very destructive path and things need to change.”
So I asked, was she horrified to now have to do the job?
“No I am fantastically excited and honoured to have the opportunity” she said.
Amy is an ‘academic director for quality and engagement’ at Anglia Ruskin University, where she is responsible for the academic quality of the degree programmes, making sure the courses meet the various requirements on them.
The ‘engagement’ part of her job covers all the non-academic student engagement, so her department deals with “support and advice for students in all situations, complaints and getting students back on track with their studies who may have had some challenges.”
A background in dealing with people’s problems is a useful start for a rookie councillor, as most of their work is casework: dealing with people who are trying to get a planning application or a business application through – or blocked – who have become homeless or are having difficulty getting a disabled child the educational opportunities they need, as well as the more run of the mill complaints about overhanging trees, potholes and more recently, traffic restrictions.
Amy has been a lifelong Labour supporter, campaigning more actively as a member of the party for the past ten years. This is the first time she has stood for election as a councillor.
Images above: Strand on the Green; Jennifer Griffiths
How well does she know the area?
“I visit Chiswick more for leisure than anything else. It’s beautiful. We come here as a family for river walks.”
She is not alone in representing an area she does not live in. Several of Chiswick’s other councillors who have just been re-elected also live outside Chiswick, but got to grips pretty quickly with the issues affecting Chiswick in their first term.
She intends to dive in and get to know the area as quickly as possible and thinks it might actually be an advantage to Chiswick to have someone inside the majority Labour group. The Labour Party remains in overall control of Hounslow council, with 52 Councillors, out of a total of 62 seats in 22 wards. The Conservative party won 10 seats, eight of which are in Chiswick.
She hopes to persuade the people of Chiswick that the Council does care about this area.
“I want to make it clear to residents that their views will be heard and I think it will be helpful to have diverse representation.
“I think if I can do my job well and represent people and bring issues to the Council, I am just in it to do a good job and give people a bit of faith. I am fully committed to doing my best and hope to change some perceptions.”
New councillors have an induction period and some training for the job. She will then have to find a way of working with her two ward colleagues, Conservatives Gabriella Giles, re-elected for a second term in Riverside and Peter Thompson, a former leader of the Conservative group.
When I spoke to her two days after the election, neither of her new colleagues had been in touch to congratulate her, but she hopes they will be able to work well together.
“If I can have a collegiate relationship that would be ideal.”
She plans to start with surgeries once a fortnight, “one in the day and one early evening at weekends” at least until she gets a measure of how many people will come to her for help.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Conservatives win Chiswick Gunnersbury
See also: Conservatives win in Chiswick Homefields
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