Labour and Cooperative candidate for Bandley Hill
Hello, my name is Michelle Gardner and I am proud to have been chosen to stand again as your Labour & Co-operative candidate. I’ve been married to John for 30 years and we have a daughter, Natalie. I’ve lived in Stevenage since 1966 having moved from the East End of London and attended both Roebuck Jnr and Heathcote snr schools. After attending the Stevenage college of further education (now North Herts College), I worked locally at one of the large companies in Stevenage. After marrying John, we moved to the United States for several years.
On my return to Stevenage, I trained to become a primary school teacher and taught in two local schools, Shephalbury Park (formerly Burydale) and Longmeadow.
It wasn’t until I gave up teaching and was encouraged to become a councillor that I realised my interests really begin with people. I am at my happiest when listening and talking with people from all walks of life and all cultures. As a teacher, I did it and as a councillor I continue to do it. Health, social care, education, housing, older people and our diverse community are some of the topics which interest me most.
I am motivated by the values of equality and social justice and this is where I start from. I have been a councillor for Bandley Hill Ward for over 8 years now. I look back over my time and, although I appreciate times change and nothing stays the same, I believe what does stay the same is that people will always need a home to call their own, people will always benefit from outdoor spaces and activities, people will always need care in the community and people will always need a council that listens and does its best to support the community.
During my time as your councillor and working with my colleagues, I have contributed in supporting projects and making decisions affecting/involving our Bandley Hill Ward and the Town. Some examples are:
■ 15 new social housing flats at Burwell Court
■ Increased parking availability in the Ward
■ Helped fund replacement of the donkeys in the Donkey Park and more equipment in the play area
■ Used my locality budget funding to support Bandley Hill Playcentre activities for our young people
■ Funding of local groups like ProbasheProyash, the Irish network, carers in Herts, SWF, Phoenix for Deaf children, food parcels for school children during Covid, SADA (domestic abuse)
When we get through this Covid-19 pandemic and out the other side, hopefully we can re-look at our communities and encourage a coming together for the benefit of us all. I am in discussion with colleagues and the Council to introduce a few projects that will utilise open space in our parks, with the introduction of an orchard of fruit trees and to encourage walking, cycling and general enjoyment of the outdoors. I plan with colleagues and Council staff to create an action team to help clear some of the lanes surrounding Bandley Hill and the Poplars to allow better community access to nature and away from cluttered streets.
I’m sure you too have ideas that could improve your areas so please do share them. As your local councillor I want to hear what Bandley Hill and the Poplars community want and I will work towards achieving what is possible. Stay safe.