THE year long-standing councillor Beverly Davies was first elected, she worried she might have been a bad omen.

Standing as a Conservative to her beloved ward of Prettygate in 2008, she took up her seat during an election when the Tories lost overall control of the council to the current incumbent coalition.

The party has remained out of power in the borough ever since, with the Conservatives holding 23 seats, the Liberal Democrats 13, Labour 11, Green one and independents three.

“It has been frustrating, really, really frustrating,” said Beverly, who last month stepped down from her seat after 12 years.

“Especially when you consider during the election a couple of years ago we were so, so close – we were there all but one seat.”

But narrow misses at regaining a shot at shaping the borough haven’t stopped Beverly, 57, from maintaining an active role in the day-to-day management of the council.

The mother-of-three has spent seven years as chairwoman of the scrutiny panel.

She has enjoyed this role alongside her jobs managing an EU grant, and working for the Rural Community Council of Essex charity.

She is stepping down from her council role to allow her to take up a new career at the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

“I have been working with grants ever since I began working for Colchester Council in 2004, when Robert Davidson was leader of the council,” she said.

“I was working for one of the executive directors and set up a grant scheme.

“I had never set up grants before that, but I did my research, started from there and my life has been grants ever since.

“Throughout my time on the scrutiny panel I have made some recommendations to cabinet and full council, most of which were accepted.

“Especially over last three months, I was very closely involved with everything going on and the decisions being made, if an urgent decision needs making as chair it often comes to you to look at it.”

It helps that Beverly also volunteers as a magistrate in Colchester and Chelmsford courts, overseeing criminal cases from drink driving to theft and common assault.

“It is a role that makes you ask questions, and it is role which has helped me be critical – in a good way – and not to trust people at their word, you have to see the evidence for yourself,” she said.

“In the Conservative group I feel I have sometimes been the voice of reason if someone is getting overly excited about something.”

At a ward level, Beverly says it has always been a councillor’s job to empower constituents and encourage them to take pride in the areas in which they live.

“It is a stressful role when you’re in cabinet or chair of a committee, but if you are a backbencher I wouldn’t say it is overly stressful,” she said.

“A lot of the time the politics gets in the way, people try and get one up on each other.

“If a councillor does something they have to Tweet about it, but I have always found as part of your role as a councillor you really don’t need to shout about it.

“Prettygate is a lovely ward, full of really nice people.

“I first got involved with community work when I was living in Stanway, before I moved to Prettygate and before I was a councillor,” she said.

“When the Westlands Country Park opened, I went along to the opening and although it was lovely, there was no play equipment for the children.

“I listened to this and thought ‘We could do something here’.

“I made a note of people’s names, got them all together and helped with the setting up of Friends of Westland Country Park – between them they raised more than £100,000 to get the equipment.

“I didn’t lead the group, the lady who did all of the work was put up for an award, but I helped to facilitate it, I encouraged her and I think that is the role of a ward councillor.

“You have to be realistic about things, pragmatic and ready to manage expectations.

“The kind of person who makes a good councillor is someone who walks along their road, and if they see a set of keys left in a front door they will knock and see if everything’s okay and let that person know.”

With elections suspended by the ongoing coroanvirus pandemic, Beverly’s seat will not be contested through a by-election until restrictions change.