Thursday, April 13, 2006


A day spent with Andrea and Emma on Saturday was just the antidote to all the politics of the week. John Paul had to go to work but the three of us managed the shopping, a little bit of housework and a lot of playing. Being a grandmother is a wonderful thing. Denis' work commitments mean he's not getting the benefit of being a grandfather to the same extent unfortunately.
A meeting of the Local Strategic Partnership on Tuesday included one of the more interesting debates of recent times in response to the White paper on Worklessness strategies. It's a really important matter in Stockton and the North East in general so everyone was keen to see it working well. There was also a really interesting presentation on the work so far that's been carried out on the Saltholme Nature Reserve. If the European funding is forthcoming that's going to be somewhere well worth shouting about from the roof tops - huge, interesting and on our doorstep. The design of the building is futuristic and just about as sustainable as you can get. What's more, after a Europe wide competition to find architects the winners are a Newcastle partnership.

Friday, April 07, 2006

ASB and other things

So, with the Annual Meeting behind us what have I done? Caught up on some case work for the ward and read lots of comments from frustrated residents on the one hand and frustrated planning officers on the other about applications in the ward. Some things never change. The Mayor now has her blog working, with photos of events she's attended. Because it's part of the local authority website it has to be done according to policies and codes of practice, but it's still a real innovation.
Tonight's ward surgery brought some unwelcome news. It all started well enough with a representative of the church in whose premises we meet coming to do a risk assessment and discuss the petition they're organising for a pedestrian refuge in the road outside. That's something we can very happily support. But then came a visit from our neighbourhood police officer to talk about the anti-social behaviour problems in the ward. It seems that we now feature as the second worst ward in the South and West area. Gangs of young people are gathering, drinking alcohol and causing noise and damage as they disperse. If the police disperse them from one area they move on to another. In the end we decided to try to arrange a round table discussion with the young people, the police, the youth service, the parish council, ASB team and other interested parties to look for a way out.
Watch this space - miracles are notoriously difficult so I hope we aren't raising false expectations.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mayor Suzanne, Part 2

Home again, in a blissful state of blessed relief. Everything went smoothly - 100% attendance by councillors meant that Allison was duly elected as chair of the Housing & Community Safety committee and Andy as Vice Chair of Corporate Policy Review. No hiccups, Suzanne looked radiant, John was proud as could be and their grandchildren were wonderful. The African drummers played up a storm and were applauded enthusiastically. The Fairtrade wine gave me a chance to explain Fairtrade to the representative of the Hindu community on Teesside. All in all a good day!
Now I need to get my act together and be more dedicated to this diary, as our new mayor is planning to have a blog during her year as mayor. I'll definitely have to look to my laurels.

Mayor Suzanne

Well, the day has finally arrived - at approximately 10.45 BST today Suzanne Fletcher will become Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees. It's been a long time coming. Thanks to the selfishness of the biggest party on the council she's been a councillor for 25 years before becoming Mayor whereas some of the recent holders of the post have served less than 10. Still, today's not a day for recriminations but celebration. It's going to be a very different mayoral year from the norm!
For a start the Mayor and civic guests won't enter the reception to a slow handclap but to the sound of African drums provided by a group of refugees from that continent. Drumz use Fairtrade drums imported from Africa. Which will lead nicely to the Fairtrade wine served with the meal! All part of Stockton's effort to become a Fairtrade Borough, something Suzanne has wanted for years now.
Meanwhile I need to go and add the Lord Lieutenant into my speech introduction!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Imaginary Readings

How time flies when you're enjoying yourself (or busy or just forget about the blog!)
It seems that we celebrated too soon the granting of a second reading for the TMR bill on building in gardens. Although apparently granted such a reading in fact it won't get it, because there won't be time made for it. Such is the way of Parliament - Ten Minute Rule bills get imaginary second readings.
Meanwhile we have another two or three applications in for just this kind of building, and no sign of the flood abating. EPAG are getting more and more demanding in their desires to reform the planning system as a whole and Stockton's planning department in particular.