Listen to a podcast recorded with Eastbourne Councillor Jim Murray (Lib Dem – Hampden Park)
Councillor Jim Murray – Eastbourne – Hampden Park – Chairman of Planning Committee
TRANSCRIPT OF JIM MURRAY INTERVIEW
I: Hi and let me just say hello and welcome to Councillor Jim Murray, how are you doing Jim?
Jim: I am doing very well, thank you very much for inviting me.
I: Listen no problem at all. I think it’s a really good idea to find out about our Councillors in Eastbourne and find out about who they are and what they do and how they help the community and you are a perfect example of that, somebody who is a Councillor for Eastbourne and has been for a while but I don’t want to talk about you too much. Jim, why don’t you tell us what is your ward and how long have you been representing your ward?
Jim: So Hampden Park is where I come from. I have been in Hampden Park for about ten years. Originally when I moved into Eastbourne I moved into the Shinewater area which is another sort of fantastic estate living. Very much from a background of my families, my mum and dad come from Slough and then we moved down to Dorchester. My father was a social worker so we have always lived on estates and I have always loved the camaraderie and the community spirit that you get in those sort of areas.
I: Oh that’s nice isn’t it actually. So how long have you lived in Eastbourne now then?
Jim: I have lived in Eastbourne for 27 years.
I: 27 years, so you have seen some changes?
Jim: Yes, very much so. Because I am a carpenter by trade so when I first moved into Eastbourne the population was 65,000 and one of the reasons why I moved down there was to help build these sovereign housing estates. Yes, and there are about 6,000 houses that have gone up down there along with a load of houses in Shinewater and Hampden Park and all around the town so since I have been there in the 25 years the population has increased by 35,000.
I: That’s a lot.
Jim: So we have gone from 65,000 to about 110,000 so a huge amount of difference. It’s the most popular place to move to in the country, is Eastbourne.
I: I’m not surprised it is nice.
Jim: Along with being the sunniest place and the happiest place in the country to live.
I: Now, do you know what if everyone listening okay the funny thing about the sunniest place to live thing is I think it’s true. I have just moved out of Eastbourne to Bexhill right and it rains in Bexhill all the time! So I reckon that the downs really do shield Eastbourne from all of that weather definitely. So you’re not lying when you say that I think anyway but that’s my own personal opinion of course.
Okay so how long have you been a Councillor Jim?
Jim: I have been a Councillor for seven years now, coming up for re-election in 2019 but before then I did an awful lot of community work in the Shinewater area, set up a youth club, helped work with Shinewater Park sort of developing that and I got spotted by a local MP Stephen Lloyd and he started hovering around me about sort of 10-12 years ago and sort of saying ‘come and help us, come and help us Jim’. So only a few hours a week and then eventually he talked me into it and sort of 40 hours a week in addition to my normal working week, I have become a Councillor.
I: Yeah I think people don’t quite realise the amount of commitment that you guys put in. You know I work with Councillors all over the South and I am just astounded really the amount of time that you give and its really nice that there are people in the community that do that to be honest. And I’m not just saying it. But you know, I couldn’t do it and so hats off to you guys.
Jim: It’s something that I have always done so it’s not really a hardship for me. And because I really enjoy doing it it’s certainly something which I sort of wouldn’t knock. The step up though from Councillor to MP is huge, you know, Stephen Lloyd, the amount of work that he puts in. One of the conditions was that when he started work as an MP that his wife insisted that he have every seventh weekend off.
As opposed to every seventh day! Which he hates having to take off but he does do so that’s the sort of commitment you need to be able to put in if you are going to be an MP. As a Councillor we can drift in and out a bit if we need a little bit of time off then we can do that but all the time you are enjoying it you keep cracking on.
I: Right so your ward is Hampden Park West?
Jim: Both of the wards are altogether so its Hampden Park East and Hampden Park West. The only reason that we have got two sides is because we have got a railway line going in between us.
I: Ooooh lets not talk about the railway line and that crossing. Mind you, we could do on a later one, let’s talk about that.
Jim: Yeah we will come back to that! [Laughs]
I: Probably wise. Okay so Hampden Park is a nice area, you know I think that there is lots of things that go on there but we can come back to that again later on I guess. Tell me a bit more about what made you decide to become a Councillor? You mentioned your family?
Jim: It’s all down to the fact that I like to be able to help out other people, it’s very frustrating on the outside of Council, it’s very frustrating on the inside of Council as well. It’s even more so on the outside sort of asking for things to be done and the painfully slow results that you get to when you haven’t got a little bit of say within the actual Council itself so as a Councillor I get a little bit more control. I have got access to a few more pots of money for example, each one of the wards in Eastbourne has £10,000 that we can give away to various charities, up to £4000 each, which is really useful in a pot you know we can get trees planted, we can sort of help out local youth clubs. There is a karate club that we have helped out in the past where they couldn’t afford to buy all their mats so we bought the mats for them and in return they gave us four free places for a year for some local families so that they could get some karate training.
I: Oh that’s nice that’s a good payback isn’t it?
Jim: Yeah so there’s always a bit of sort of too-ing and froing with this but and I do really like the bartering system as well so [laughs] so there is lots of opportunities for us to be able to do that sort of thing as well.
I: Now that’s true as a contra deal as it were so in other words we help you, what can you help us with? Which makes sense doesn’t it because sometimes that is worth more than just money is because you know you can actually get better value through barter than you could do normally ordinarily. That’s cool then so okay thinking about, tell us a little bit more about your family. You come from Slough you say and was your dad an activist? Am I right? A political activist?
Jim: I was conceived in Slough and I was born in Dorchester.
I: Okay right okay but you don’t sound Dorcester-ree
Jim: No I stayed there for ten years and then we moved to Canterbury where my mum and dad were Quakers so we lived in a Quaker meeting house right in the centre of Canterbury.
I: Actually lived in? Wow, tell me more about that. I thought a Quaker meeting house was kind of like what the name suggests really, just a meeting house or sort of church space or something but you say you lived there? What did your family run it as well or……
Jim: Yeah there was a three-bedroom flat above the meeting house. My mum and dad got that rent free in exchange for them running the actual bookings and everything downstairs and keeping the house clean.
I: Oh right okay.
Jim: So my dad went off and did his social work and my mum ran the house and she looked after the Quaker meeting house as well and did all the bookings.
I: That’s amazing. Things follow on don’t they because Quakers were very much socially oriented.
If you’d like to read the full transcript you can view it here: http://bit.ly/2FoXZYz
Or go to www.yourcouncillor.online