After a decade of serving as a councillor in Preston city centre Drew Gale is preparing to stand down.Advertisement
Councillor Gale, who represents the Town Centre ward, said he will not be standing in the 2019 election.
The 2019 election is an all-out election with ward boundaries across the city being re-drawn and the number of councillors being cut by nine.
Cllr Gale’s ward will also be renamed to the City Centre ward, finally reflecting the city status of Preston granted in 2002.
We spoke to Cllr Gale about his decision and his time as a councillor.
BP: How come you’ve decided to stand down?
Cllr Gale: A number of reasons really, but mainly work life balance. I have had a tough year, my wife has been quite ill for a large part of it, and I also have a very demanding, full time job working with wounded and Injured soldiers, couple this with having an 8 year old daughter who attends gymnastics class, Taekwondo, Brownies and football along with other parental duties, and well, something has to give. I take being a councillor incredibly seriously, invest a lot of effort into it, it’s an honour and a privilege and I love doing it, but the demands on my time have been incredibly pressured for a number of years, especially this last year, and frankly after almost 10 years, I need a break.
BP: How has Preston Council changed since you were first elected?
Cllr Gale: It’s almost unrecognisable. Tory Austerity decimated Preston Council, Many other local authorities would have gone under, Preston however, is lucky to have had a number of talented, progressive and passionate elected councillors who through innovation and sheer hard work managed to not just keep the city alive, but to see it reinvented and now become a beacon that other councils look to for inspiration. I must give a special mention for Peter Rankin who led us to this. The Preston model will help shape councils the nation over for years to come.
BP: How have you seen the city centre changed during your time representing the ward?
Cllr Gale: After Tithebarn I feared for the city centre and indeed the city itself. But look at in now, despite this Conservative government subjecting Preston to crippling budget cuts, we have managed to reinvent the city centre. The market looks fantastic, The old post office will be a brilliant boutique hotel, the cenotaph is simply stunning, the guild hall goes from strength to strength, the Bus Station has had a multi million pound revamp, Fishergate just looks amazing, And hopefully soon we will have a brand new state of the art cinema on the old indoor market site, which will massively stimulate our night time economy for years to come there is also plans to ‘re-imagine’ the Harris – these are exciting times for the City of Preston.
BP: What’s been the best thing about being a councillor?
Cllr Gale: It’s the small things I take the greatest satisfaction from. Helping constituents with issues is incredibly rewarding, I have also loved being Armed Forces Champion, and although organising Armed Forces Day takes many months and considerable effort it has been amazing to watch it grow into one of the city’s biggest annual events. I also enjoyed chairing a number of scrutiny and task and finish committees, which offers a real chance to recommend changes to council policy on issues that affect real people within the city. Most recently I chaired one focused on a suicide prevention strategy for the Council, like I said, real issues effecting real people. I also loved watching how the people of Preston come together and stand against the racist idiots of the EDL.
BP: What’s been the worst thing about being a councillor?
Cllr Gale: But make no mistake the job can be quite harrowing at times. For everyone I was able to help, there where 10 people I could do little for, people pushed into poverty by things like the bedroom tax and changes in the welfare system, people struggling to access mental health care, people who can’t afford to eat. It’s heartbreaking. This government is an absolute disgrace. It has targeted the most vulnerable in our society to pay for tax cuts for millionaires but I am lucky to be on a council that is willing to stand against them and fight for the many, not the few.
Read more: Preston councillor speaks out about receiving online threats ahead of EDL demo
BP: What’s next for Drew Gale
Cllr Gale: Well I am going to take a break, but make no mistake I am far from done with politics. Quite the opposite. I am excited and enthused to be part of a labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Despite all the bollocks in the main stream media. He is a good, honest man fighting the establishment and their corporate paymaster trying to win social justice for the masses, and he is more popular than ever. The media hatched job simply isn’t working. People see through it, which is wonderful to see. Personally though, I’m going to just go with the flow and relax (well as much as one can relax with an 8 year old child constantly harassing you for attention).
I have been thinking about ‘what next’ myself and have a few ideas. I would very much like to stand for Parliament in the near future. I want to make the world a better place for my daughter to grow up in (cheesy but true) and Parliament gives me a real chance to effect progressive change. I’m a working class lad, raised by a single parent on a council estate, I know how hard life can be, I know the struggles real people face daily, their are not enough people in Parliament with my sort of background. If their was, then, perhaps life for would not be so hard for honest, hard working families.
If that opportunity doesn’t present itself then maybe I will consider standing for the County Council. I have certainly not ruled out standing again for Preston Council, It’s an exciting time for them; its going in an new socialist, direction under the leadership Matty Brown with support from the likes of Martyn Rawlinson the city is in safe hands and will continue to grow exponentially.