A Labour councillor in Kingswood has outlined why she sticks with - and loves - the role in an amazing response to criticism on social media.
It began with a post about a nightclub which last week lost its bid to open until 3.30am due to concerns about crime and noise on the Kingswood People Facebook group.
Andrea Reid, a Labour councillor for Kingswood ward at South Gloucestershire Council, had previously told a licensing hearing that she received complaints about the Regent Street bar ‘every Monday morning’, and left a comment under the post thanking BristolWorld for sharing the story on the group.
But her comment irked Facebook user John Savage who accused Coun Reid of implying that the Kingswood bar was ‘full of crooks’, labelling clubbers as criminals and ‘creating scenarios’ to run businesses ‘into the ground, purely for more grants’.
He even went as far as to ask Coun Reid if she attended the scandal-ridden ‘wine and cheese party’ at Downing Street and added: “Wonder if No 10 had any problems with their licence application, seems not.”
But Coun Reid replied: “l’m reading your comments and can’t help wondering if you know which party l’m in.”
She was keen to set the record straight on her status as a councillor, as she was still in one of ‘the social groups on the brunt end’ of the issues people in more deprived areas of Bristol are grappling with.
She told Mr Savage: “I agree politics is a disgrace and l’m a politician. People who want power are the last people who should be given it.
Andrea said she didn’t like being called ‘councillor’ and that the term had become a ‘standing joke’ to her friends who ‘feigned deference’ by constantly addressing her as Councillor Reid to wind her up.
She added: “I do the job partly because l want to contribute, but mostly because l like helping people and standing up for them.
“l got sick of being a keyboard warrior so decided to sit at the table and say it direct to the people making the decisions, whilst doing what l could to still help people.
“I don’t take people out for secret dinners or offer bribes. The only favour l’ve been offered since being elected was a free dessert at Ravennas. I declined it.
“I don’t have a PA, secretary or office. I hire my own rooms, pay my own travel and buy my own office supplies and equipment etc out of the £11,800 pa Councillor bursary. l claim no added expenses.
“I’m a PIP claimant, single Mum, Bromford tenant, no car, no exotic holidays - my last holiday was a week in a caravan at Brean in 2018. My gas bill has jumped from £95 per month to £275.
“I’ve been sanctioned twice (wrongly). l attend dreaded DWP medicals.”
She said had ‘never believed or stated’ that all clubbers are criminals, adding: “Why would l think that? I’m 52, not dead, dried up and bitter.
“If you heard my playlist, l think you’d be surprised. There’s not one Max Bygraves track on it.”
Coun Reid went on to say that although she made ‘no apology’ for wanting people clubbing in Kingswood to be safe, she still wanted Rumours to succeed and prosper like any other business in her ward.
She signed off with: “I may have Councillor slapped in front of my name but we are not as different as you think, and l’m not living some exalted existence as you appear to assume.
“l am not removed or protected from the struggles we’re facing. I’m actually in one of the social groups at the brunt end of it all.”
Speaking to BristolWorld about her musings, Coun Reid insisted she was not offended by Mr Savage’s comments, which she welcomed, and that she was trying to be ‘humourous and good-natured’.
She told us: “I completely get Mr Savage’s cynicism around politics.
“I think what does frustrate me in this job is that people don’t understand the role of a councillor - that could be a result of arrogant councillors in the past, but we’re attributed with far more power than we actually have.
“If you’ve ‘made it’ as a councillor I think there’s a tendency to assume you’re sorted or have all your ducks in a row, and I hate that sense of inflated rank, or the idea I’m above residents.
“My thinking is very much along the lines of, hang on a minute, you’re a public servant - so actually, that places you below.
“It’s residents who go out to vote and decide whether you get the job. I’d guess my message is that I’m open to any questions as a councillor, and that there are no stupid questions.
“And as I said in my comment, please just called me Andrea.”