Sunday, 15 June 2008

6 weeks in, finding my feet now!

6 weeks as the Labour Councillor in Rushmere and I am now finding my feet. It has been a busy few weeks but now I am able to help residents far quicker as I learn which Council Officers to ask and which departments deal with what.
So far I have sat on the Planning Committee (as a substitute) had a Licensing training session- did you know that a number of the laws on Street Trading date from 1871? No nor did I!
I attended my first Overview and Scrutiny meeting and I have had 3 sessions of Councillor Induction - with one to go! I have also managed to have a meetings with Officers responsible for roads and also planning. Away from Grafton House, I have had a Long meeting with the Police Inspector responsible for North East Ipswich and I have also attended the North East Forum. With an interest in sport I have also been able to see the Ipswich Wanderers v Antigua and Barbuda game and yesterday I watched the Great Britain women's Gymnastics team take on Romania at the Pipers Vale Gymnastics Centre. So quite a lot for 6 weeks, and of course I have continued to attend Labour party meetings and deliver leaflets. But the most satisfying aspect is that I have been able to help residents on a number of issues, from informing them of the proposed housing development on the Bristo's site, to dealing with anti Social Behaviour, getting some trees pruned and various other issues. the most common complaint from residents has been about the state of the roads not only in Rushmere but over the whole of Ipswich. This issue will be one of the key issues that the Ipswich Labour Party will be campaigning on over the next 5 months. I will keep residents of Rushmere informed both through this website and also by our regular "Rushmere Rose".
It may have been 6 weeks hard work but it all is made worthwhile if I can help the residents of Rushmere make this - "our" ward a decent place to live in.
Not all aspects of council work have been as rewarding as helping residents, I was looking forward to attending my first Overview and Scrutiny meeting, as with the current way many councils do business- with most aspects of policy being dealt with by a small executive, it is important that the Overview and Scrutiny committee make sure the executive are held responsible for their decisions and that the O & S committee ask the right questions. The meeting started with the election of a councilor from the ruling administration, where 'best practice' recommends that the committee should be chaired by an opposition member - so much for democracy there. Then at the end of the meeting there seemed to be a desire by the Tory and lib Dem councilors to make sure the next meeting is kept short as it clashes with the 'Mayor at Home' function. Now I believe that the Civic events are important but not so much that the O & S meeting should be scrapped or the agenda just be limited to one matter. It is as if the executive do not wish any of their decisions to be scrutinised - I wonder why?

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