WHEN elected representatives make difficult decisions, this can sometimes involve weighing up competing priorities, but the choices remain the same.
For me, the order should always be your residents, your county and then lastly your political party.
Lots of the decisions that Monmouthshire county councillors take are more about the running of the county as a whole, but sometimes these decisions might disproportionately impact on residents in a certain ward and that’s when councillors must put their residents first.
Last week in full council, there were three occasions which put some councillors in an uncomfortable position where they needed to choose between loyalty to their residents or to their political party.
Firstly, my Conservative colleagues Alistair Neill (Gobion Fawr) and Fay Bromfield (Llangybi Fair )brought a motion calling for a proper joined up strategy between the health board and the council to help save Gilwern surgery from the threat of closure.
Of course, the council doesn’t run GP surgeries, but are there ways in which the two authorities can share spaces and resources to include primary care?
Unfortunately, local labour councillors voted the motion down with the rest of the administration including Green councillor Ian Chandler (Llantilio Crossenny) and Independent Meirion Howells (Llanbadoc & Usk).
Next up, we had a debate on whether we should reopen Tudor Street Day Centre as an interim measure while the council concludes its evaluation of several options.
I proposed the motion and it was seconded by my colleague Tony Kear (Llanbadoc & Usk).
Unfortunately this was amended to remove the call to reopen Tudor Street.
Surprisingly, the amendment was backed by some Labour councillors who represent Abergavenny wards and had previously indicated their support for reopening Tudor Street - such is the strength of a party whip.
Then finally we had a debate on gypsy and traveller sites and voted on a motion proposing to remove two sites in Magor and Undy from further consideration due to their unsuitability.
Even members of the ruling group had spoken out, including in a recent cross party scrutiny committee, which criticised the process of selecting sites as flawed and concluded that none of the shortlisted sites were suitable.
I was disappointed that the two Labour members who represent the Undy area sat in silence throughout the meeting and then voted not to remove the two sites from consideration, despite having publicly criticised them.
The desire to vote with a political party whip can be strong, but sometimes our democracy needs to benefit from a rebel with a passionate cause.