New face at Castlereagh as Cochrane stands down
A new Alliance Councillor has been chosen to replace Judith Cochrane MLA in Castlereagh Borough Council.
Vasundhara Kamble is the woman to replace the MLA as an Alliance Councillor for the Castlereagh East area in the council.
Councillor Kamble was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. She was a teacher for seventeen years in India before she and her husband came to Belfast in 1995. She taught history in senior college and Ancient Indian History was her speciality.
She said: "It is a massive privilege to have been selected by the Alliance Party to be a councillor for the Castlereagh East area.
"I want to pay tribute to Judith Cochrane who has served everyone in the area so well since she was elected in 2005.
"Judith, along with the rest of the Alliance team at Castlereagh, has worked hard towards building a shared future and delivering fairness for all, and I look forward to continuing this excellent work at the Council. We have a strong team in Castlereagh and we aim to continue increasing the number of councillors we have in the area.
“We aim to deliver the best services and the best value for money for everyone in Castlereagh."
Judith Cochrane MLA said: "I know that Vasundhara will be an excellent Councillor for everyone in Castlereagh East and I want to congratulate her on being selected to take over from me at the Council.
“I have stepped down, as promised, to focus on my role as an MLA and I will continue to serve my Castlereagh East constituents at Assembly level.
“I know that Vasundhara will work very hard, along with the rest of the Alliance team at Castlereagh, to help meet the needs of everyone in the area.
"It has been a massive pleasure and honour to represent all the people of Castlereagh East at the Council, and I want to thank all the staff and all my council colleagues for all their assistance during this time,” she added.
One unionist councillor was critical of Judith Cochrane’s record of attendance at Castlereagh Council meetings — going to just five out of 19 meetings in 2011 to date.
UUP councillor and MLA Michael Copeland said after her departure: “Nobody noticed that she had gone — that’s the height of it.”
An Alliance spokesperson said: “"The role of a Councillor is more than just attending the monthly meetings. It is about meeting with constituents and addressing their needs via Council officers and other organisations.
“Considering the fact that Alliance's vote increased at the recent Castlereagh Council elections with the addition of two Alliance Councillors, we believe that Judith got the right balance between seeing her constituents and attending meetings," added the spokesperson.