Carl Minns is the Liberal Democrat leader of Hull City Council. Lib Dem Voice has quizzed him about why he’s in politics, what he’s achieved and how being a Liberal Democrat means he does things differently from other parties.
1. What made you get involved in politics originally?
I was recruited into the party by Lembit Opik at a student rally against tuition fees in 1998. A few weeks later a Lib Dem activist, John Robinson, (now executive member on the council for inward investment) turned up at my house with a bundle of leaflets and a mars bar. The rest, as they say, is history!
2. And what made you want to become a councillor?
I looked at the tired, out of date Labour-run council and thought, ‘I can do better than that for Hull’.
3. What do you like most about Hull?
The potential of this city oozes out of every brick. I moved to Hull to come to university. I left twice and came back both times. It is large enough to have all the amenities you would expect from a city, theatres, galleries, museums etc, but small enough to be very intimate. It is one of the North’s hidden gems and if you have never been – put aside your preconceptions and have a look!
4. What most surprised you when you took over as council leader?
My jokes suddenly got a lot funnier! Seriously, the level of deference to my office (and not just from council staff!) is staggering and something I still struggle to come to terms with.
5. What’s the biggest challenge the council faces over the next year?
I would say the next three really. It is budgets and how we all adapt to the oncoming public spending cuts.
6. What one thing would you most like central government to do for local government?
Get off our backs and allow local people to have local priorities to be delivered by a local council.
7. What’s been your greatest achievement as council leader?
Crime has fallen by 42% since the Lib Dems took over the leadership of the council.
8. How do residents of your ward notice that they’ve got a distinctively Liberal Democrat councillor, as opposed to a councillor from any other party?
We keep in touch all year round and get the small issues that make a big difference sorted.
9. How do residents of Hull notice that they’ve got a distinctively Liberal Democrat council leader, as opposed to a council leader from any other party?
Its hard to articulate but it is a liberal attitude and the way we approaching things. A belief that the council does not have all the answers a commitment to finding out what the issues are on the ground and an openness regarding how we find solutions to local problems is key. Although harder to quantify it is the things that we have stopped and policies that have not seen the light of day are some of our bigger liberal victories
10. What would your top tip be for anyone wanting to become a councillor for the first time?
Try it, it is a very fulfilling role, but do not let it take over your life and keep everything in balance. ( I am very bad at this!)