Introducing our youngest candidate, Jodie Ashford, who is a 25 year old PhD student from Heath Hayes. Jodie is passionate about younger people being represented in local government to play an active part in the decisions that shape their future.

You can read more about why Jodie would like your support on May 6th here 👇

How long have you lived in Heath Hayes? If you were not born in the town can you tell us a bit about where you were born, where you have lived and what brought you to Heath Hayes?
I was born in Stafford Hospital and lived in Heath Hayes for the first few years of my life. My family then moved to Norton Canes where I spent most of my childhood, and later to Burntwood where I attended high school. We moved back to Heath Hayes about 10 years ago and I have been here ever since. We love the area so much that this year I purchased my first home right here in Heath Hayes!

What is your favourite thing about Heath Hayes?
For me, it has to be the local green spaces. The nature reserves, Hednesford Hills and of course Cannock Chase. I think of myself as very lucky to be able to walk around and enjoy them so freely, especially this time of year and in the summer. Our local nature reserve is my dog's favourite place in the world and a haven for us both.

On a personal level, what are the high points and best achievements in your life to date?
Being accepted onto my doctoral programme to study for my PhD in computer science is one of the things that I am most proud of. Another is my service year, where I volunteered full time for the charity City Year UK, working to help to tackle educational inequality in West Midlands schools. This year I also ran my first 5K, something that I never thought I would be able to do. Stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing past personal boundaries makes me even prouder of these achievements.

What led you to be standing as a councillor now?
I have always had an interest in politics and over the last couple of years I have found myself with a growing interest in local politics in particular. Seeing the response to local issues like the Chase Line, the smell from the tip and the recent car park changes over the Chase has highlighted the importance of community and councillors working together. Knowing there's still work to do, I seized the opportunity to work with a community-focused independent group that prioritise local issues. I also believe diversity and representation are important in politics, and I will work to ensure all voices of the community are heard equally.

What issues do you think are most important to residents in Heath Hayes?
With everything that has happened in the last year, residents want to make sure life can go on as normal once we are out of lockdown. This means there's work to do supporting our local businesses, ensuring our transport links remain reliable and safe, and making sure our roads are managed properly after the opening of the McArthur Glen outlet.
I know many local residents share my love for our green spaces and want to make sure these spaces are cared for, and made safe and accessible for all, at any time. This ties into issues of anti-social behaviour and feeling safe on the streets, as well as maintaining our wooded areas and lit paths.

If there was one thing you could achieve in your area, what would it be?
Working together as a community to make sure our local parks and green spaces are preserved, protected and well-maintained. Lockdown has shown us just how important these spaces are for our mental and physical health. We need to ensure proper protection and investment in these areas so that are safe places to enjoy for years to come, and for future generations.