As a result of the May elections, Lib Dem representation on Spelthorne Council increased from two to eight and became the official opposition. So what have the new group been doing in the first 100 days?
Being an effective opposition councillor first requires that you get to know the Council's people and procedures. This is done by a combination of formal and informal learning. New members have attended up to 15 formal training sessions covering topics varying from emergency planning, via members code of conduct to affordable housing. As important as the formal sessions are, taking the opportunity to speak to Council officers or other experienced members enables a new councillor to get a sense of how things really are on the ground. It is not possible to make a difference until you understand the different parts of the Council and how they interact to provide the local services that we rely on.
The briefings give new councillors the chance to ask questions and your Lib Dem councillors have been making the most of the opportunities. It has been noticeable how few questions the new Tory councillors have been asking - either they already know everything or don't have the same level of curiosity as the new opposition councillors. Many of the questions asked have tended to challenge the status quo and so maybe this explains the balance of enquiry.
As well as getting up to speed your Lib Dem councillors have been attending the full Council (twice) and committee meetings. The committees in particular are opportunities to get directly involved with key aspects of the Council's activities, such as dealing with planning applications or reviewing the accounts. We've also submitted a motion opposing Heathrow Expansion, our first motion since May.
Your new Lib Dem councillors are committed to getting really involved in all aspects of the Council, holding the Tory administration to account, fearlessly asking the key questions and effectively representing local residents.