Mike Foster for Ardsley & Robin Hood

I am so pleased to be standing to be a Councillor in the ward which I have lived in for more than 28 years after coming so close last year. 

Having worked in the commercial sector, served in the Armed Forces and now our local community helping families dealing with dementia, I have seen the many sides and shared the many challenges that life brings to hardworking families. 

Our local area has very low turn out rates historically, but I hope residents will realise how important local elections are for shaping our day to day lives. 

Over the years, I have come to see that our area has some unique challenges when compared to many other wards around Leeds. I hope that by encouraging people to get out and vote on May 2nd 2019, we will show the council that our area cannot be ignored. 

We live in a community that has difficulty defining its geographical and communal heart, with people looking to Morley, Rothwell, Leeds, Wakefield, Middleton, and even Dewsbury as their administrative and commercial centre. One of the symptoms of living in such a disjointed political ward is feeling that you have very little say or control in what happens, or feeling that there is a lack of vision of what your community wants to be. It is now time for change. 

We have some wonderful local community groups across our local area, they do fantastic work to bring people together and promote good causes for our communities. I have a vision of these brilliant groups working together in a connected political ward with all our our community groups interwoven, supporting and communicating with each other and helping to create a real sense of belonging that helps us feel proud of where we live, without looking further afield for a community hub.

This will not be an easy task, but it is one I feel is vital for our local area. 

Neighbourhood plans will help us achieve this goal  

The Neighbourhood Plan schemes are a fantastic way to help communities take back control of how their local area is developed, and gives residents the opportunity to have a say in future building developments and infrastructure planning, a major positive for our area that is so often hit with unsuitable developments on our dwindling green spaces.

Through the Neighbourhood Plan scheme, residents would have more say on where money garnered from development levies is spent as well as the potential to significantly increase the amount received locally.  

The question is, why haven't our councillors offered us a chance to benefit from a Neighbourhood Plan? 

To take advantage of these schemes, it would require input from local residents. Volunteers would need to come forward and get involved. Having spoken to many people around the ward, and listened carefully to our local community groups, it is obvious that we have more than enough active and willing local people with the passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm to make a great success of neighbourhood plans. 

Having led many teams whilst working with Coca-Cola, I have come to recognise the benefits and strengths of a diverse group of people with many different skills, abilities, and experiences. I know this community would make a fantastic team, that would help drive our area with vision and local knowledge. 

I know that together, we can build a team that understands and has a stake in our key objectives, where everyone has a chance to have an input and enjoys the satisfaction of making progress together as a community. I have a vision of a community that is regularly updated and can feel accomplished and successful as part of a local team. 

Again, why has this never been offered before? 

I am not your standard political person, over my life I have always voted, but I can honestly say I have voted for pretty much every party. Now I'm on the doorstep every week talking to residents and I have an idea about what we need to do to improve our community. Local elections impact on our daily lives probably more than national ones and I think we should have local representation that has a local voice, that is why I'm standing to be the next Councillor for our area. 

I'm not claiming that I'll get everything right all the time, and we may not always agree but I will always look people the eye and explain my thinking, and make sure the communities know how and why I voted in the chamber. 

I wont hide my decisions, and I will push for recorded voting so that everybody has access to voting records of every councillor in Leeds. 

I will endeavour to represent not just the vocal groups and individuals, but also those people who are busy supporting their families and who don't often have time to review the political landscape. Everyone, no matter how engaged, has issues that can be solved by voting on May 2nd. Please, take time to vote by post or in person. 

There's a lot that needs working on in our local area.

For years we've suffered from inappropriate housing developments placing excessive demands on our schools and other services. This, whilst no discernible social planning that anybody who actually lives here can work out.

We have a woefully inadequate public transport service in many areas, with very poor access to commercial and retail facilities and very limited public spaces for residents to meet up in without travelling a considerable distance. 

We are sadly facing an apparent increase in crime and anti-social behaviour, I want to help tackle this by supporting our communities and working with the police, local authorities, and our MP to secure increased police visibility and resources. 

We have been the poor relation of Leeds for too long, I want to change that. 

I have big ideas and a bold vision, but if our elected representatives don't dream high and dream big, why would we want them to represent us? 

On the 2nd of May 2019, you can help our local area take its first step on this transformative journey. 

On the 2nd of May, I ask the people of our communities, my neighbours, to vote for me in the Leeds City Council elections. If elected, I commit to bringing this new approach that I have begun to outline above to local politics and I will work hard to bring real, tangible improvements to the lives of those who live here. 

Please feel free to contact me and express your views and thoughts, or if you like my ideas and could lend some support: Mikefoster.arh@gmail.com 

Thank you, 

Mike Foster
Prospective Conservative Council Candidate