"Nothing makes me prouder than picking up an issue on the doorstep – whatever it may be, from potholes to broken streetlights or issues with housing and schools – and being able to help solve it. You can really make a difference to people."
Elisa has been the county councillor for Kings Hedges division since 2017. Originally from Milan, she moved to Cambridge almost 10 years ago and became active in local politics on the doorstep, before joining the Kings Hedges team of councillors. She now lives in Orchard Park with her partner Gaute, and works as a scientific publisher.
Tell us a bit more about yourself, Elisa – how long have you lived in Cambridge?
I’ve lived in Cambridge since 2011 – quite a while now! I moved here from Newcastle. King’s Hedges is actually the first ward I moved into when I first arrived from Newcastle and I still consider it home, despite having moved across King’s Hedges Road to Orchard Park.
My background is in Chemistry and in my day job I currently work in academic publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. I have represented King’s Hedges on the County Council since 2017. It is my honour and privilege to represent an area with such an amazing and diverse community and every day I work hard at the County to ensure that, despite Labour being in opposition, King’s Hedges’s voice is heard loud and clear.
When I first met the local Labour team in King’s Hedges and started to help them out every now and then with campaigning – I was new to Cambridge and was looking to understand my new home better and also make some friends – I would never have dreamt in a million years that I would end up being elected to do the same job as them!
How long have you been a councillor? What does that involve?
I’ve represented King’s Hedges on the County Council since 2017. It is my honour and privilege to represent an area with such an amazing and diverse community and every day I work hard at the County to ensure that, despite Labour being in opposition, King’s Hedges’s voice is heard loud and clear.
In my first term as a councillor I’ve served on a variety of committees. The two most important ones are General Purposes, where the County’s finances and business strategy are monitored, and Communities and Partnerships, where the County does most of its community and social mobility work. Officers and members of the Conservative ruling group on the County Council make incredibly important decisions that affect the community where I live and the community I represent. It’s my job to fight for the interests of that community and make sure they can access basic frontline services that mean they can live full and dignified lives from birth to old age.
What do you enjoy most about being a councillor?
Nothing makes me prouder than picking up an issue on the doorstep – whatever it may be, from potholes to broken streetlights or issues with housing and schools – and being able to help solve it. You can really make a difference to people.”
In King’s Hedges I’ve been able to help residents with a range of issues. After the Conservative led County Council cut the budget for street lighting in Cambridge, I successfully applied for an extra streetlight for King’s Hedges every year I’ve been a councillor and I intend for that record to continue! I have assisted residents with parking (especially antisocial parking near schools, and disabled parking bays), traffic calming measures, and new pedestrian crossings near our schools.
I was delighted to help a local family get the best education offer for their child who has special needs. When a few months later I returned to their doorstep, they were so happy to see me that they FaceTimed their adult children (and a few more extended family members, I was struggling to keep track, to be honest) so that everyone could say thank you on behalf of their little brother. I was really touched by that!
How would you describe King’s Hedges?
King’s Hedges really shows the best and the worst of Cambridge in miniature. It’s a beautiful, incredibly green place to live. The community is tight knit and friendly. The City Council’s housing drive has seen some excellent housing development in recent years.
But the deep inequality of two tier Cambridge means that far too many children still live in poverty, too many families struggle with affording food and fuel, and the public transport offer is totally inadequate.
What is your vision for King’s Hedges and Cambridge?
A Labour government can really make Cambridge one place fair for all, and until then I will continue to fight for better and greener public transport, for children’s services that all families can access locally, for high standards of care in care homes run by the local authority, not the private sector, and for a City and County Council that really live close to the people and allow real redistribution of wealth, so that no one in the streets of King’s Hedges has to go hungry or cold.
How has being a councillor changed during COVID?
The pandemic has been especially challenging for someone like me who likes to get out and talk to people on the doorstep every week, regardless of whether an election is coming. I don’t think this Conservative government has handled the situation particularly well – in schools and care homes especially. Care homes in King’s Hedges were particularly affected, and I am still pushing for answers to this.
That’s the bad news – the good side to this has been working closely with city council colleagues on their excellent repose to the pandemic. We really are a great team, and long may that continue!