‘Difficult decisions’ ahead for Matlock’s Labour councillor

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When Andrew Botham was elected as Matlock’s County Councillor in May this year, he was the first Labour candiate to take the seat in 50 years.

After a “long, hard fought” campaign it was with an abundance of excitement and good feeling that Cllr Botham took the role.

But has the optimism waned after his first few months in charge?

“Definitely not,” said Cllr Botham.

“Don’t get me wrong, there are some very difficult decisions we are having to make.

And everything revolves around saving money – but that is not exclusive to this council.”

On the plus side, Cllr Botham – who grew up on the Hurst Farm estate, in Matlock – believes that being a member of the controlling group puts him in the best position to “put forward the views” of Matlock residents. But what are the people saying to him?

“Generally, people seem a lot more concerned about their own financial affairs, rather than the wider area, than they were before,” said Cllr Botham.

“A lot of people I speak to are being hit extremely hard by the welfare reforms.

“Derbyshire, and especially the Dales, has a severe lack of smaller and affordable housing and we really need to build more,” he added.

Another thing that Cllr Botham is keen to work on in the coming months is boosting tourism.

“We need to shout about what we’ve got in the Dales,” said Cllr Botham. “I don’t think previous administrations have been quite as hands on as we are promoting the area.”

Recently, Cllr Botham boarded the narrow boat on Cromford Canal, which required a lot of work to reinstate and is expected to bring many more tourists to the area.

He is also looking forward to the Pedal Peaks initiative, which has just secured funding from the Department for Transport, to deliver a family friendly cycle route around the Peak District.

“It’s a difficult time to take the reins, but I will work hard for Matlock people,” said Cllr Botham. “Anne Western is a great leader for Derbyshire County Council and we will challenge cuts from central government,” he added.