Friday, November 03, 2006

Tarmac etc part 3

Even more complaints as people have returned from holidays or finally dug our phone/e-mail details from the back of their filing systems. We've now passed them all on to the engineers in Stockton to deal with as we agree that the consultation was way below standard, and writtten to every dwelling on the road explaining why it was done in the first place, what we've done with their complaints and how to access SBC's complaints system. Happy days!!

Yesterday started with a meeting between Mike & I on the one hand and Stockton's chief executive on the other, discussing issues of concern to our group. Confidentiality of the council's communications was one topic on which we're awaiting the outcome of some investigations. He was full of the implications of the White Paper which has finally been published, and the half promises it makes without any detail of how they'll be kept. One which will be good, as long as it isn't watered down, is the ability of the borough to make its own by-laws without approval by the central govt. That means that Stockton residents will know exactly who to blame if a by-law doesn't achieve what it's meant to achieve and it'll be a lot easier to change it if need be.

Then a quick meeting with the scrutiny officer supporting the Children and Young People committee to iron out a problem we have with dates of meetings before heading over to the Town House for a meeting of the Members' Advisory Panel. I wouldn't normally accept meetings at 11 on a Thursday because of family commitments but this had such an important agenda I had no real choice. In the end it was a constructive meeting because most of what we agreed was what we Lib Dems were happy with. There's still one outstanding issue - is there to be a mandatory requirement on councillors to undergo any kind of training or not. Some who are very keen to do training don't like the idea of it being mandatory for all kinds of very good reasons and that will take some negotiation in the future to make sure we don't lose the good will of very experienced councillors in all parties.

The early evening was taken up with the Cabinet meeting which was probably shorter than usual because I'd lost my voice so couldn't make any serious interjections or ask awkward questions. A rather dry document entitled "Employment Land Review" went through on its way to becoming part of the Local Development Framework. As part of the review 2 pieces of land in our ward will not be used for industrial development and the bigger of the two, between the present housing and the A66 will be noted as agricultural so won't be used for housing either. Hooray!!

Then it was home to prepare for the Annual Mayor's Charity Dinner - huge fundraising bash at the Tall Trees. Suzanne had worried originally that there might not be enough people willing to go but in the end there were more tickets sold than ever before and the rather different format seemed to go down well - dancing to the Beatlemaniacs, racing on a Scalextrix track, a roving caricaturist and a tombola as well as a raffle and auction and a superb meal made for a good night. Sadly, my conversation was limited severely by a lack of voice, but others seemed to be enjoying their chats.

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