Rumour has it that Councillor Emma Hoddinott hasn’t been seen much in the ward she represents these past few months, though that’s not to say she hasn’t been a busy little bee in other quarters.
Before the festive season kicked off, she was striking determined poses down in Eastwood, keen to use her Cabinet position to grab the glory for a multi-agency initiative targeting anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood.
Nice work if you can get it; which of course she could. With Council Leader hubster Chris Read there to promote her, she wasted no time in getting to grips with a portfolio that provided ample opportunity to pull determined faces; in stark contrast to the startled expression she sported on the front page of the Times, having been forced to resign her position as Deputy Leader of the Council deemed ‘not fit for purpose’ by the damning Casey Report.
Hoddinott was also seemingly keen to claim the credit for organising a ‘reclaim the night’ march to raise awareness of women’s safety issues in the town centre. Now some folks might remember that the original reclaim the night marches highlighted sexual violence towards women and girls. Given this, and recent history, it could be argued that there is perhaps no better place than Rotherham for such an initiative, so it was a bit odd that Hoddinott’s little trot around the town centre focused on road safety. But hey, why should mere detail ever be allowed to stand in the way of a little self-promotion dressed up as sisterly lantern making?
Since the start of the new term, Hoddinott has been back in the town centre again, pulling her determined face outside the train station this time, and it’s also been revealed that she and hubster were the first out of the starting blocks to lend a hand to one of the most shabby re-treads Rotherham Labour has ever had the gall to put before the electorate in a by-election.
But there is of course, a connection between Eastwood, the town centre, and the ward of Brinsworth and Catcliffe: All lie within the Rotherham constituency, currently the fiefdom of Sarah Champion, who publicly declared that two terms of office are enough and that she would not stand for election again in 2020.
Most sensible folks took this with a sack full of salt; Champion has a bit of a track record when it comes to changing her mind, as Jezza knows all too well. But according to some, Champion’s comments had Hoddinott quietly wetting her britches in anticipation. However distant, the prospect of a plum ‘safe’ seat with an all women shortlist so close to home was, so it’s said, a more appealing prospect than writing yet more new speeches to highlight tenuous local connections to yet more far flung northern constituencies destined to choose others. But being in the long shot, last chance saloon perhaps inevitably means cosying up to the key demographic, and going along with shabby goings-on.
Alas, it seemingly also means turning your back on the principles upon which you’ve built your cul-de-sac career. For it was reported on Radio Sheffield last week that Rotherham Council will be bringing in private contractors to address littering and parking issues in the town. But strangely, a statement was given by RMBC officer Karen Hanson, rather than by Hoddinott in her capacity as Cabinet member for waste, roads and community safety.
Now given that Hoddinott has a bit of a reputation for pushing herself front and centre immediately a camera appears on the scene, one can only speculate on the reason for this sudden bout of bashfulness. Maybe she needed to do a bit more work on her ‘tough choices, hard decisions’ face before she could wheel it out in front of council staff who now face a less certain future.
But I’m sure she’ll be able to draw on her experience as a former Trade Union Service Conditions Officer to answer any questions they might have… Once she’s given her Unison badge and stop privatisation balloons a little kiss and put them in the drawer marked ‘things that have served their purpose’ that is.