By Cllr Greg Peck
As Churchill said, democracy is not perfect, but it is better than the alternative.
I am writing this having just completed more than a month of campaigning that left me and, I am sure, the other candidates completely exhausted.
First, I want to thank my opponents for putting themselves up for election and all that entails. Also, a big thank you to all those who voted in the election, whichever candidate you voted for.
I am honoured to have been selected to represent you for another four years, and I will do my best to ensure that I represent and support all the residents in my division.
If you win an election the elation of victory certainly does make the exhaustion bearable. I can only imagine that if you lose the exhaustion must feel ten times worse.
During the count one of the opposition candidates, with whom I am on good terms, turned to me and said, “Why do we put ourselves through this?”. We were both returned but until all the votes are counted you can never be quite sure.
One of my colleagues endured several recounts, where the final majority in favour of his opponent was 21 votes. In the end both winner and loser looked absolutely shattered.
With experience I have learnt some tricks that reduce the discomfort suffered by hours of trudging the streets and lanes.
I realised very early on that sartorial elegance and fashionable footwear need to be discarded in favour of comfort, so my brogues were replaced by a sturdy pair of hiking boots; in a previous election I had to get two pairs of shoes re-soled.
Clothing needs to be lightweight and waterproof. You do get hot even when walking in quite cold weather and in this country, you can never be sure it is not going to rain at some point during the day.
I spent one afternoon trying to keep my leaflets dry by covering them with my coat while I got soaked. Soggy leaflets are not good and are a devil’s own job to get through letterboxes.
Talking about letterboxes, some are more user friendly than others. It makes me really appreciate our postmen and women.
My heart lifted whenever I came across one of those standalone metal boxes: the ones that are at floor level left my back aching and the ones with thick brush draft excluders rip your hands to pieces.
So, for me, wearing leather gloves on a hot sunny day was not a fashion statement but to protect my hands.
At the last election I had three fingers shredded by a cat’s claws; this time it was just one deep puncture wound from a dog bite.
A lot has been said in the press about abuse suffered by canvassers. I have to say that generally the reception on the doorsteps was good, whether people agreed or disagreed with me.
However, you do get the odd person who can be incredibly abusive. Only on one occasion did I fear it might turn into a physical assault and in that instance, I beat a hasty retreat.
Online abuse is much more prevalent, and I think it will increase as social media is becoming the future of canvassing.
Now the campaign is over I can focus on getting on with the things that matter to my constituents.
As I write this, we are currently waiting for the leader of the council to determine what role we are expected to play in the new administration as he populates the various committees, etc.
I will endeavour to keep you informed about the work of the council and would welcome any questions.
Also, if you have an issue that you feel needs my involvement or support please do not hesitate to call or email me.
Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282