What the cleverest(?) politicians could learn from sales people

Car sales people have been the butt of many a joke often dismissed for sharp practice or even sharper tongues, but there is so much that our politicians – especially the local ones – could learn from that industry.

Let’s start with the basics – if you are selling, Qualification is the phrase used, finding out what your customer wants, their needs, their dreams and their commitments.

For politicians, this process is referred to as Consultation, with politicians deciding what the voter wants, what their dreams ought to be and framing questions to deliver the policy that they want to impose.

A sales person is trained to listen to the answers given by their customer and to describe how the features of their product will benefit the customer and deliver what they want.

A politician will tell their electorate what they can have, fitting as many as possible into the straightjacket of legislative control of their lives, of course referring to consultation as proof of voter desire and blaming failure on everyone but themselves.

Most importantly, if a sales person fails to persuade a customer of the benefits of their product, they are trained to make one of the most difficult of calls – the lost sale call. It is difficult because the customer may identify the sales person as being at fault – it may be their product did not measure up – whatever the outcome of that call, it is a valuable exercise in improvement and learning how to win next time.

When I stood for the local elections, I canvassed neighbours who I had known for 30 – 40 years asking for their nomination.  I did not seek their vote, just their support for my suitability as a candidate.  One of those neighbours had been a supporter of the Liberal Democrats although he had allowed the lapse of his membership because of Nick Clegg’s prevarication in Government on Student Fees.

Since the decimation of the Liberal Democrat vote in Beddington North, rather than reflecting on the imposition of the incinerator on the ward, the destruction of the community in Richmond Green or the planned development of the Sheen Way Playing Fields – the local Liberal Democrats trawled the election nominations and wrote to my neighbour officially expelling him from the Liberal Democrat Party.

It is vindictive, short sighted and self-defeating – will that Lib Dem sales person sell their product to that person again?

Much better to reflect on the mistakes, listen and most importantly CHANGE!


Learning Fast – give your thoughts on Beddington Lane and support the CryerArts Team!

One of the most unexpected parts of our new roles as Councillors is the training.  Acting as an interface with Officers in the Council and helping residents brings all sorts of new challenges.  We have had training on a Code of Conduct and soon we have Equality and Diversity training then of course there are the specialist committees where we represent the wider community and operate within legal frameworks.

For the Planning Committee that I am pleased to be involved in, there were three hours of training presented by a barrister and an hour is scheduled before every meeting to familiarise ourselves with the Local Plan.

One thing I have learnt already is that if you are objecting to a Planning Application, please involved your local Councillor.  They can join you in presenting your objections to committee and can be realistic about the success of your position.

It always helps to know which ward you are in so I have attached a link to the Beddington North Ward which lays our responsibilities as Councillors very clearly!

And please get involved with the consultation on Beddington Lane – National and Local Governments depend on public apathy about consultation to push through their ideas – get your idea in as well!

Tomorrow is Carshalton Carnival and although it is outside this ward, it is a great event and I hope it gets a lot of local support.  But also deserving of local support are the group who have proposals to relaunch the Charles Cryer Theatre.

They have a presentation tomorrow from 12 noon – 2.00 pm outside the theatre – they deserve our support and I will be going along to give them mine – see you there.



Today the calendar tells me it’s the 3rd of June and I can’t believe a month has gone by since the residents of Beddington North ward placed their trust in me.  It is a privilege to serve them and together with the other Independent councillors, Tim Foster and Nick Mattey, Beddington North residents and their interests will always come first.

On the 8th of May I signed a Declaration witnessed by the Chief Executive.  I must admit to an inward smile as I felt like George Washington signing the Declaration of Independence (ts)!!

What’s it like being a first time or Fresher Councillor.  A little daunting to be honest with so much to learn and absorb.  The Freshers Fayre where Councillors meet representatives of different Council Departments was very informative.  The staff of ICT were extremely helpful in trying to get my lap top set up for the different Council systems.  I’d like to thank them for their patience and I can report that after two hours all is working as it should.  Now they have to sort out my phone!!!

What has struck me in my first month as a Councillor?  The party political posturing for a start.  It is my opinion that local councils should be run by Independents who have the interests of the residents at heart and are not bound by ridiculous party politics.  A local government of all the talents would be a good democratic way to go but while the Liberal Democrats have a working majority this is most unlikely.  However rest assured I, together with Nick and Tim, will shall do our utmost to oppose matters which are going to affect our lives in Beddington North and to keep you all informed.  I suspect the Liberal Democrats will do everything they can to sideline our opinions, they do this at their peril.

Councillors are given a basic allowance plus more allowances depending on what positions they hold on the Council? This was news to me, I thought a small allowance for time, effort and expenses, would be offered.  If Councillors allowances were cut just think of the good that could do, perhaps for a carer or to keep a specialist unit open in a school.

I have been delegated to sit on the Licensing Committee, the Scrutiny Committee and the Neighbourhood & Environment Committee.  This is as well as full Council meetings and all the training and induction so a very busy time is in store.

I have been dealing with several residents’ problems.  I am assured that my enquiries of Council officers should be dealt with in a certain time frame – we shall see – answers are due by 6th June.

A wise man has told me to concentrate on things that affect Beddington North and I will do just that but it does not stop me having concerns about matters that come to my attention.  Ruth Dombey in her short video on Sutton Scene says the Liberal Democrats have work to do.  They are committed to working with Age UK to help the elderly.  I hate to point the finger but Ruth you’ve had years to sort these things out and I’m sorry but blaming it all on Government cuts just doesn’t wash.  Yes there are strategic matters that are demanded by central Government and the Mayor of London and this can affect funding but this is not the whole problem.

Ruth Dombey says the Liberal Democrats are the party for the environment, really, so why have we in Beddington North had to see the building of an incinerator and not the country park we were promised.  It seems to me that our ward is the dumping ground for anything Liberal Democrats don’t want to put in another area to jeopardise their support.  The Charles Cryer theatre is another case in point.  Nowhere in the Borough for the performing arts is a real problem.  I suspect although I have no actual knowledge that the bids that are coming in to run the Cryer will be listed as not suitable and the original plan to knock it down together with the Gurner building and the Fox and Hounds pub to build flats will go ahead.  I may be wrong here, I hope I am, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, residents of Beddington North, what are my aims as your ward Councillor.  To endeavour to do my job as honestly and as transparently as possible.  To keep you informed of situations that will affect all our lives and to fight as hard as I can when I think they are wrong and to hopefully encourage others to consider standing as Independents in four years time.

Beware political parties in Sutton the Independents are coming!!!