‘Tiser Interview: Carol Hart

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Over the past 19 years Carol Hart has represented the people of West Hallam and Dale Abbey as a parish councillor.

She now wears many hats, including deputy leader of Erewash Borough Council, and shadow cabinet member for public health on Derbyshire County Council.

But Carol, who has been given the all-clear following a cancer diagnosis at the start of the year, only decided to give politics a go following the death of her husband John.

Speaking to the Tiser, she said: “I lost my husband 19 years ago. He was on West Hallam Parish Council and had been ill for some time. I used to go to the meetings as a member of the public. When he died they asked me if I’d like to take his place. I thought it would keep me occupied.”

From there, she was elected to represent her ward on Erewash Borough Council in 2001 following the death of a councillor, and in 2003 she was elected on to Derbyshire County Council following the death of Brian Smith from kidney cancer.

“It’s all a bit morbid,” said Carol, 73. “But that’s how it snowballed.”

Before her days as a councillor, Carol and John had a building business. When John became ill, with heart problems and then cancer, he had to retire and they ended up closing the business.

She said: “When John died I thought ‘do I sit here and mope or do I so something?’

“Things have got progressively busier and busier. For two years I was on the minority group of the borough council, then I was offered the position of deputy leader on the county council.

“In December 2009 Labour took control and I was made shadow cabinet member for communities, and the last 18 months for public health. It is non-stop meetings but while I can I’ll keep going and put something into it.

“If people ask you to do something good you can get a result.

“One of the most recent successes was saving the number 11 bus from Derby to West Hallam. It was going to affect people working late so we mounted a campaign, got lots of publicity and the company agreed to subsidise it for another year. It is now in place until June 2017. It was so important to keep it and I was really pleased.

“When you’re in control (your party) you can try and deliver on your priorities. You can make a difference.

“Both sides can have good ideas, sometimes I think there is too much arguing and backbiting, it’s so much easier if everyone just gets on.”

Carol still lives in the house in West Hallam that she helped John build. It still holds all the memories of their time together.

Following John’s death, from oesophagus cancer and heart problems, she started raising money and set up a fundraising committee.

This led to The Magic Appeal to raise funds for cancer related equipment, which attracted other to get involved, including the Derby Evening Telegraph, eventually leading to £1.2 million being raised.

She said: “It took a lot of time up but it was so worth while. £300,000 was also raised for laser equipment. It was quite sad when it finished. It couldn’t help John but it helped me to think it had helped someone else.”

Away from her councillor duties Carol is an avid Derby County Football Club supporter and remembers going to the games with her dad when she was 14.