REPOST - Cllr Julia McShane in her own words
By Julia McShane in A version of this story also appears in the July edition of Guildford Borough Council's tenant magazine Contact Point
With Cllr Julia McShane appointed to be Deputy Leader of Guildford Borough Council we thought it would be a great time to share this piece written by Julia about herself. We hope you will find it an interesting read and it will help you see why Julia (born and raised in Park Barn, Guildford) is such a great choice for this role.
Julia is also the Lib Dem Group Leader and Lead Member for Community & Housing.
Many of the enquiries I get from residents are housing-related so I was delighted to be given the opportunity in March to add Housing to my Executive portfolio and become Lead Member for Community & Housing.
In the years I have been a ward councillor I have always encouraged council tenants to raise the housing issues they have with the council but noticed that many were concerned that their tenancy might be affected if they complained too much! Although there was no evidence to suggest that was the case it seemed that tenants felt the council was remote and not helping them to feel that they were important or valued as customers. As Lead Member I want our tenants to feel that our service to them is excellent and that begins by improving the relationship between the council and tenants and between the tenants and me, as their Lead Councillor for Housing.
Tenants receive a magazine called Contact Point and recently the team who put it together asked me to write a piece about myself because they too recognised that Councillors and the Council can seem remote and perhaps not very approachable.
Anyway, to help me they gave me some questions to answer, along the lines of what is my day-to-day job, what are my hobbies, favourite food etc - all deliberately light-hearted and personal so that tenants could see that although I am a councillor, I am just a person like them too. I would like to share it with you…..
I'm qualified to work with children and was working locally as a part-time pre-school practitioner when I first got elected. I decided to give up my job so that I could give all my time to the community and my role as a Councillor and I have loved every minute of it and still do. The best thing about my 'job' as a Councillor is that I get to meet so many lovely people in our community, listen to their stories and help them resolve issues where I can. I also get to see how hard our council officers work, how much they care and how dedicated they are to providing the best service possible to residents.
I don't have much time for hobbies but I love music, especially Motown and old stuff from the 60s & 70s and listen to it when I'm answering emails or reading paperwork for all the meetings I attend. The shower is obviously the best place to sing along and we all do that, don't we?
The next questions are all food-related and reminded me how much I missed not being able to go to my favourite Italian restaurant in Guildford during lockdown. I drink more coffee than tea and in relation to the question 'what is your favourite biscuit?' the answer is "Yes…any biscuit will do". Although a dark chocolate digestive will always be my absolute favourite as it reminds me of when I was a child and my mum only bought them as a treat once in a while. I used to take the tiniest bites to make the taste of each biscuit last as long as possible. Funny the things we remember isn't it?
One of my favourite films is Dancing with Wolves because I love the music, the story of enemies becoming friends, the scenery and of course the wolves. I much prefer films that are uplifting, thought-provoking and have a happy ending. Like many people, I also love the Bond movies and when Sean Connery was my favourite James Bond I was lucky enough to be in St Andrews, Scotland in the early 1990s when he was there on a break. The autograph and photo of me with him are treasured possessions and I will never forget how it felt to stand next to the most charismatic actor ever. It's a shame I was growing out a perm at the time, but you can't have everything.
So there you have it, my answers to some of life's important questions; important because we can all relate to them and I hope we can relate to each other as we go about our daily lives in communities across the borough.
I hope if you see me out and about you will say 'hello' and If I'm lucky enough to come along to an event in your community, please remember to pass the chocolate biscuits.
Cllr Julia McShane
26th May 2021
Note: A version of this story also appears in the July edition of Guildford Borough Council's tenant magazine Contact Point