'I had a front row seat seeing the harm of Tory austerity so now I'm fighting for change'

Labour Councillor Chantelle Lunt for St Gabriel's Ward, Huyton.
-Credit: (Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

Chantelle Lunt is an activist, writer, academic and company director who has just become the newly elected councillor for St Gabriels ward in Knowsley.

By her own admission, it is one of her finest achievements and is proud to represent the borough she grew up in and where she raises her children. Cllr Lunt said: "Having an active role in a political space felt like a natural progression for me.

"I've always had a real and emotional connection to the area because my family and friends are here. That makes me extra motivated in fighting for positive change in the area."

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However, things were not always so sunny. Chantelle spent the vast majority of her childhood and adolescence in the care system. She was raised by her foster mum, Joan Edison in Halewood and credits her with instilling the values she lives by today.

It's also why she is so passionate about the care experienced community and the young people who are under the care of the local authority. In fact, improving outcomes for children is one of Chantelle's key priorities and she is looking forward to advancing their cause in future council meetings.

The statistics behind the experiences of children in care are stark and means there is much work do to in Knowsley and across the country. A recent report published by the NSPCC showed the number of children in care has increased every year since 2008 and has risen by almost 10% since 2022. It also highlights how the majority of looked after children are in care because of abuse or neglect.

Labour Councillor Chantelle Lunt for St Gabriel's Ward, Huyton.
Labour Councillor Chantelle Lunt for St Gabriel's Ward, Huyton. -Credit:Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

Chantelle said: "I really want to change those statistics and look for ways to improve lives and I'll always advocate for that inside and outside the council chamber. All my energies will be going into helping marginalised groups and working class communities succeed."

Knowsley is one of the most deprived borough's in the country with 25% of the population on a low income and experiencing multiple indices of disadvantage. Having spent a significant portion of her career in the public sector, the challenges Knowsley faces are not lost on cllr Lunt. She said: "I worked in children's centres for 12 years so I had a front row seat in how harmful Tory austerity was in defunding vital services to the community.

"The experiences I had there, as well as in other periods in my working life, really highlighted the importance of the decisions being made in local councils and the UK parliament and how they impact working class people."

As well as working hard to improve children's services, cllr Lunt's other priorities include employment, community cohesion and protecting the borough's green spaces. Although there is an acceptance of the difficult challenges the local authority faces, cllr Lunt points to the planned regeneration of the biscuit factory and the acquisition of Huyton shopping centre as examples of positive interventions by the council.

Cllr Lunt said: "Some of the main challenges in Knowsley relate to the area being deprived of funding by central government. The challenge will always be maintaining a high level of service.

"Hopefully, we'll get a Labour government this year and we can start funding the change Knowsley deserves and which some people desperately need.

"I know I'm accountable to the people of my constituency and my role is to give voice to their concerns and shine a spotlight on the issues they face."

In terms of community cohesion, cllr Lunt is keen to start promoting the positives of diverse and inclusive communities, but acknowledges the challenges of working in this space.

Earlier this year at a cabinet meeting in March, Knowsley Council reviewed a final report by the stronger communities scrutiny committee on community cohesion in the borough.

The report highlighted Knowsley's success in welcoming new communities, individuals and families as part of the re-settlement programmes from Ukraine and Afghanistan and praised the work and compassion of local people.

But the council's analysis also drew attention to the continuing challenges within the borough and committed the local authority to progressing their safer communities partnerships and developing the equality diversity and inclusion plan. Cllr Lunt said: "Diversity is nothing new in Knowsley.

"A number of Black families came to the borough when it was first established as a metropolitan borough in the 1970s and some members of my own family were part of that.

"We need to celebrate all the positive things diversity brings to the community and also make sure everyone is safe."

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