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Interview with Debbie Lemay, Independent Town Councillor for Buntingford

Debbie LemayDebbie Lemay has been a councillor for over 20 years. She stood as an Independent Councillor under East Herts People in the 2007 district council elections. She also ran for parliament in the General Elections in 2005. She is currently a freelance journalist and is an elected independent town councillor for Buntingford.  She kindly discussed with us her experiences as an Independent Councillor in East Herts. 

Why did you get involved with East Herts People and stand as an Independent Councillor?

I have a real affinity with my local area and I really wanted to make a difference. It felt right to become a councillor. It may seem cheesy but it is the best feeling in the world to know that you have made a positive difference to individuals' lives. 

I strongly believe that there is no place for national politics in local government and that is why I am an Independent Councillor. I support East Herts People because they are involved with my area and advocate Independents.

How did East Herts People support you?

I stood for the District Council election under East Herts People in 2007 and I received all the support I could have possibly wanted. The staff were very helpful and their support enabled me to run a professional campaign. Unfortunately I was not elected, but I still received a large proportion of the vote. 

What are your roots in East Herts? What makes you part of the community?

I have lived in Buntingford for over 27 years and I am a proud 'Hertfordshire Hedgehog'. It is a very close knit community; I talk to all my neighbours regularly and never fail to see a friendly face when wondering around town. 

Best aspect of being a councillor?

Being able to help people does give you an unbelievable natural high. Although implementing policies in councils involves long processes and long meetings, but as long as you are tenacious and committed, you can make a difference. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about standing as an Independent Councillor?

To be an effective councillor you need to have an affinity with the area you are representing in order to be effective and enjoy the job. It does not mean you have to have lived there a long time. As soon as I moved to Buntingford I fell in love with it and when I decided to stand as a Councillor it felt right. 

How do you feel about current politics in Hertfordshire?

I am disappointed that national politics has such a bearing on the lives of individuals in Hertfordshire.  The government and the Opposition are directing councilors at a local level far too closely.  Councillors in East Herts and other District, Town and Parish Councils are more concerned with what their party thinks than doing best for people who have elected them.  Local level people that matter are residents etc local councillors are not considerate enough of locals. 

How to engage with local people? 

Firstly, "just being in the patch";  Whenever I walk down Buntingford High Street it takes me ages because everyone wants to discuss their problems and concerns.  It is wonderful being part of the community and great if you can give something back.  Although it sounds cliché, it is true that a councillor should do their best to make people's lives better.

For more information On Debie Lemay's work in Buntingford please visit her website

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