Meet Helen Ellwood - Independent Candidate for East Ward of Bollington Town Council

  Posted: 05.05.21 at 13:56 by Alexander Greensmith

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With the local elections on Thursday May 6th, we have contacted candidates standing in Bollington Town Council’s East Ward. Helen Ellwood (58) is one of four, and perhaps best known in the community from being a friendly face behind the bar of The Poachers Inn on Ingersley Road.

Helen lives with her partner Rob in the pub. The Owner of The Poachers and Licensee of The Bollington Free Houses is running as an independent. It is her first ever candidacy.

As a testament to her people skills she would hope to bring to the council, Helen currently manages and employs 18 people at her pub.

The Poachers Inn is the first building in East Ward according to Bollington Town Council’s boundaries. We spoke to Helen about what she’d do if elected.

Macclesfield Nub News: Please can you tell me a bit about what sparked your interest to represent East Ward on Bollington Town council? And what you can bring to the role?

Helen Ellwood: “We’ve been in the pub for over two decades. It is a perfect hub for finding out information of people’s concerns, things they are happy with and things they are upset with. The thing that made me consider the run was when we had a road closure for just over a year in 2019 and 2020, and we found ourselves getting very involved with things because we felt we didn’t think anything was actually happening with the information flow. So we called a few meetings and became a bit more au fait with the councillors to find out the depth of information that they were getting from Cheshire East. So it was a lack of information with issues from the top right down - so it made me realise that it was something that I enjoyed doing - not the circumstances of the issue - but the actual process of getting the information was enjoyable.

Independent candidate Helen Ellwood wants your vote on May 6th for Bollington's East Ward. (Credit - Lauren Stout / @littlelens_photography88)

“I’m a fairly rational person and I’m used to dealing with people on an everyday basis given the nature of my business.

“And I was asked by a number of people ‘Why don’t you do it?’, they enjoyed my [local government] interaction and it was quite nice to hear people were impressed with the way I was dealing with things so I thought I would give it a go which is why I am here standing now.

“I thought about running for a few years I’ve had an issue with my mother and my sister who have recently gone into care, so my last two years have been quite heavily involved in organising their lives, but now that I have them settled I’ve got the time to dedicate to my community which I think is very important because I’ve got something to give and I want to give it.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What are your key policies?

Helen Ellwood: “My key policies are to mainly the benefit of the community and people that live within it. I’m not a particularly political animal my thoughts are that party politics shouldn’t really have a bearing in local community councils.

Helen has been serving behind the bar for over 21 years, but hopes to be serve the people of Bolly politically as well. (Credit - Lauren Stout / @littlelens_photography88)

“My policy is to ensure the benefit to where we live now: make sure the roads are upheld in terms of potholes, trying to find a solution to the never ending and ongoing parking issues within Bollington from the growth - while also wanting to continue the growth of Bollington - making it a desirable place to work, live and exist.

“Listening to the community and finding out about what their issues are and benefitting everything we can do towards that.

“My politics are relatively non-committal. Strangely I’ve been on Newsnight a few times because I was involved in the first prime ministerial debate, and have been invited back for follow up comments over the years. I was unusual then as my politics were not directed towards one party or another. I don’t think [party politics] should be a major factor within the Town Council.

“There is a certain amount of politics that have to be adhered to because of the connection with Cheshire East, but as a Town Council it is the people you need to do everything for, for the benefit of the people. So as I say my policies are things that are important that have come to light - parking, sustainability, transportation and also to make sure that the greenbelt issue is listened to and to make sure that Bollington can grow successfully and sustainability is an important issue of mine. On my leaflet which has gone through the Ward, the tagline has been a “Strong, smart, healthy Bollington that is fit for the future”. I think we need to ensure that we are fit for the future, we can improve, we can grow and we have to use a certain amount of leverage when we deal with these Cheshire [East] councillors but i don’t think it is part and parcel with town councillorship.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What do you think the biggest issue facing East Ward and Bollington is?

Helen with her partner Rob. (Credit - Lauren Stout / @littlelens_photography88)

Helen Ellwood: “I think Bollington and East Ward have the same issues, and the main issue that comes to light when you talk to people is planning. The building of houses on green or brownfield sites. Particularly planning that gets through via Cheshire East, but was denied via Bollington Town Council.

“There needs to be more continuity and better information on the planning process for house building plans.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What experience do you have to best understand and implement policies for the people of Bolly?

Helen Ellwood: “I think given the position that I'm in, with a very wide knowledgebase of a wide range of people coming through the doors. I’m blessed with that sort of hub of information that I get. People talk to me, people ask me questions, people listen to what I have to say. I consider myself very understanding. I do realise that people have different opinions and doing the job that I do, you learn how to deal with other people’s opinions without offending them.

“And I think that is vitally important that you give an ear to people that you are visible that you are honest and accountable and if you have to tell somebody the answer to a question, it might not be what they want to hear but if they get it back promptly and succinctly they can deal with it. I think a lot of the problems we have [with local government] is communication. People ask questions to various committees and the council, and it just seems to get lost in a big black hole. And that was very apparent in talking to people that you’re going to do better than everyone else ‘go on tell us the story’, which is what I want to do.

Helen is the owner of the Bolly pub The Poachers Inn. They have over 1,600 followers on Facebook @ThePoachersInnbollington, where you can find more about her campaign.

“I’ve not done the job before I am not wholly au fait with full protocols that go on within the town council so bear with me there on that one. But I will be a more knowledgeable once in Council.

“There are a certain amount of restrictions that I can appreciate will be in place should I get in, but I would like to be visible and as honest as I can and accountable to my Ward as I can be.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Why did you choose to run as an independent?

“I feel my objectivity, knowledge, and insight is best suited as an independent.”

Macccclesfield Nub News: A reader question: Hosting virtual meetings has gotten everyone from young mum’s to those with mobility issues into politics. Will you be pressuring councillors to continue online meetings?

Helen Ellwood: “Yeah. I think virtual meetings are good because you can get more contributions. People may have instances where they can’t physically move themselves from their home to a place of the meeting. But you’ve still got that ability to do it while you are meeting virtually at home. And you get more contributors that way. It is the perfect way to get more involvement and is now second nature and integral part of people’s lives.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Is there anything you find disagreeable in your other candidates policies that you’d like to highlight?

Helen Ellwood: “I am a firm believer that everybody has a right to their opinion - it might not be mine. But I think the facts on some statements made by my fellow candidates are ‘interesting’ to say the least, and if challenged could be difficult to justify.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What do you think the current Town Council administration could do better?

Helen Ellwood: “Communication flow is an issue with the Town Council at the moment but then again they are working under very difficult conditions with all the COVID-guidelines that are having to be adhered.

“But I think there are ways like Bollington Live the community magazine that could help with that, I’ve thought for a long time that the general public need to know the constraints that the council need to work under. A lot of people seem to think there is a bit of space full of money sitting at the town hall and they dish it out to whoever deserves it without ever having to actually go through protocol. Information detailing the Council constraints could be beneficial to the voters, giving them insight into protocols and limitations.

“Communication and information flow is vital for people to feel a bit more included within the council. There’s still a level of eliteness of the council that people either don’t think they can get in contact with to talk to them about things, or feel like they can do but it will get ignored.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Finally, what is your favourite thing about Bolly and why?

Helen Ellwood: “The people of Bollington. You are always made to feel very welcome. My husband and I have been here 21 years and we have always felt very welcomed, these lovely people who deserve good representation within the council, and that is something I would like to do. Vote for me on the 6th!”

Helen’s East Ward opponents are independent Allan Williams, Labour’s John Place and John Le Moignan for the Conservatives.

For more information on Helen's campaign, please head to the Facebook page for her business.

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