Cllr Amanda Serjeant
Since being elected to Chesterfield Borough Council in 2011, Amanda has served on the Cabinet, initially as Assistant Member for Housing, and then as Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism.
In 2017 she was elected as Deputy Leader. Her priorities in this role include finance, policy and climate change. She is passionate about tackling climate change and helping Chesterfield become net-zero. She represents the council as Chair of the Climate Change Working Group which was established after she brought a motion to council to declare a Climate Emergency in July 2019.
Amanda is passionate about Chesterfield – which she describes as a thriving and historic town whose communities have shown real spirit and resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through her work as Deputy Leader, she is keen to help make a difference on the issues that matter to local people.
How would you describe Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, using only three words?
Thriving (especially in ‘normal’ times!)
Describe something you have seen, heard about or experienced locally that has made you smile. (If you have a link to share, please do include it, so we can create more smiles locally).
Seeing how our community has pulled together through the challenges brought about by Covid-19 has been truly humbling, and there are so many fantastic examples of community spirit that have made me smile this year, despite the difficult times.
One that really stands out for me was a poem written by Chesterfield schoolboy Kenzi Jupp about his experience of lockdown.
Kenzi has autism and found that writing helped him cope with what was happening around him. It’s really touching, he captures the feelings of uncertainty and loss that many of us felt when daily life got turned upside down – but also the sense of hope, and not taking things for granted in the way we often have.
Reading it really brought home to me how difficult this period has been for our children and young people, having to learn to live without their friends and usual routines. But still being able to see that times will be good again.
His proud mum submitted his work to a writing project created to help children express their thoughts and feelings about lockdown – it deservedly won first prize in his age group! You can read the poem here, but maybe have some tissues at the ready as it pulls at the heart strings!
How have you or your team been thinking creatively to keep your business succeeding or to maintain strong relationships with your customers and suppliers?
Local people rely on many of the council’s services, even more so in times of crisis. When the pandemic hit we had to quickly understand the needs of our local communities, and be flexible in the way we managed our services to meet that need.
For example, some of the council’s staff were redeployed from their usual role to help out with frontline services which were under pressure. We also worked even more closely with the voluntary and community sector to make sure services were reaching the most vulnerable, such as supporting pharmacy and food deliveries to those in need.
What have you or your company been doing to support the mental health of your team?
The mental health and wellbeing of our communities is always really important but it’s even more crucial to make sure that people feel connected and supported during what has been a very stressful time for many, and also very isolating for some.
Throughout our initial community response to Covid-19 we’ve been working with partners to signpost people to the support and services that can help them deal with a range of mental health issues – it’s important that no one feels alone.
The staff at Chesterfield Borough Council have done an amazing job over these last seven months, keeping essential services going and helping our most vulnerable residents.
It’s really important that their wellbeing is also prioritised. The council has mental health support services in place for employees, and is about to launch its own network of Mental Health First Aiders – trained members of staff who can help support colleagues in the workplace, and help one another recognise and get help for any mental health issues they may be experiencing.
How are you, your business or your team supporting local people (or what are your plans to do this in the future)?
The response to the pandemic is ongoing and we will continue to do all we can to meet local need.
We have begun our work to understand the long-term needs of our communities. Looking to the wider impact of the pandemic, we have adopted our Covid-19 economic and community recovery plans. It’s basically about taking a step back and reviewing everything in the context of the ‘new normal’ and making sure we are well placed to respond to those changing needs.
This is about making sure our local economy remains resilient and adaptable so that people have access to the skills and jobs they need, but also the sense of community in the town. We will continue working within our strong partnership networks to make sure people feel supported and connected with their community and that those most vulnerable get the help they need.
Which business idea or community initiative has impressed you recently and why? (e.g. shown resilience, supported others, played a key role on social media etc.)
There have been so many businesses and community initiatives that have shown such resilience and adapted to the challenges of the pandemic that it is difficult to pick one.
But I suppose one that is close to my own heart because of my environmental values is Steph’s Sustainable Stuff – Chesterfield’s first zero waste shop that’s based on the market.
It’s great to see these kinds of businesses establishing themselves and doing well in the town, so that people do have some options when they are trying to reduce their environmental impact, like cutting down on single use plastics for example.
What is the best thing about working or running a business in Chesterfield or North Derbyshire?
For me the best thing about being a councillor in Chesterfield is listening to the things that matter to local people and helping make positive change happen. We are an ambitious borough and people want to see their town grow and thrive.
We also have a range of small independent businesses in the town, which help Chesterfield keep its special character and appeal.
What business or marketing support have you or your team received recently and how has it benefited your business?
It’s not marketing support per se – it’s how we work together across the borough.
I think the way we work in partnership with many agencies to achieve our priorities for local people is fantastic. Destination Chesterfield in particular is obviously one of our key partners and its work over the last decade has really helped put the borough on the map as a thriving place to live, work and visit.
What is your vision for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire in 2030? What do you think the town needs to achieve this?
Chesterfield is already in a really strong position, and it feels like the town continues to go from strength to strength. Despite the challenges of 2020 so far, we are not standing still, and many of our flagship projects, such as Waterside and Northern Gateway are progressing.
Our children and young people are at the heart of our services and we need to make sure they have access to the skills they need, and that quality local jobs exist for them and their families.
As we move forward to the next decade, also of absolute importance is our climate change pledge. We each have our individual part to play in reducing our carbon footprint – small actions add up to big changes.
And as a community leader we have made a firm commitment to making sure that reducing our environmental impact is integral to our practices and policies. I hope by 2030 we are a long way on to achieving our carbon reduction targets.