Four decades in local government

John Marsh was first elected to Rushmoor Borough council in 1976, serving as Leader of the Council from 2000 to 2004 and as Mayor of Rushmoor on three separate occasions. Here, he looks back at his time with the council.

Over the years I have been involved, there have been many changes but the basic requirement for a councillor remains the same – to serve the people of your ward and the Borough to make sure they get a good service (giving value for money) and responding to their questions and comments.
    
The old, rather large, committee system was changed (by the Government) to a Cabinet with six portfolios and a Leader.

All decisions made by the cabinet were reported to the Council where members could ask questions. This was intended to speed up decision making. I was asked to be the first Leader under this system and so set up the initial cabinet. After four years, I decided to stand down and let someone else take the reins.

Allowances

When I first became a Councillor, we received no remuneration at all. The Council then agreed to pay a fixed sum of £5 for each committee meeting attended; this gradually increased. The Government then decided that all councillors should receive a fixed allowance; this was set by an independent panel based on the hours spent and the local hourly rate. A higher allowance was set for those with added responsibility such as cabinet members.
The review panel meets every few years.

Technology
 
The use of modern technology has helped with decision making; this was particularly so during the pandemic, allowing meetings to take place remotely without gathering in committee rooms. In particular, the Planning committee benefited with the much-improved presentation of applications – photographs of application sites, the plans, etc.
    
Over the last few years this area has seen an increase in the Nepalese population (linked to the Gurkha soldiers in the army) – they are integrating well even to the point of having three councillors from the Nepalese community.

The past few years has seen some large re-developments (mainly on land vacated by the Military where they have moved to new barracks) and Rushmoor councillors have been involved in the planning of these new estates.
    
A major change took place when Farnborough’s Royal Aircraft Establishment closed down and the area re-developed, but the airfield remains – for business aviation use and the historic wind tunnels are protected as listed buildings.
    
I have been privileged to have been Mayor of the Borough on three occasions – the final time being 2022-2023 which coincided with the events of 2022 – three Prime Ministers, the loss of our beloved Queen Elizabeth II and the accession to the throne of Charles III. As Mayor, I had the rare duty to read the Proclamation to announce King Charles III as our new Monarch. The first time this had been done for 70 years!
    
I retired from the Council in 2023 – having decided in advance that I would not seek re-election.

Event Diary

This year, Total Telecom’s Connected Britain is celebrating its 10th anniversary, marking a decade of networking, innovation, and collaboration. The conference is now the UK’s largest digital economy event, set to welcome over 7,500 delegates from the telecoms industry and beyond to discuss the hottest topics at ExCel London on September 11–12. 

DTX brings together creative minds and technology practitioners with the tools needed to drive change, enhance experiences and improve efficiencies across today’s organisations.

The countdown to the Environmental Services & Solutions Expo (ESS Expo) is on! As the UK’s largest environmental gathering, ESS Expo is set to take place on 11-12 September 2024 at the NEC, Birmingham.