Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday already?

On the home front we now have our lovely wooden floor but have yet to choose and fit new skirting boards so some of the furniture is still in other places. However, we have brought back our comfy seating so at least we don't have to try to relax sitting round the dining table! I even managed to catch up on some reading and filing while the work was being done.
Around the ward we've made decisions on where to have spring bulbs planted this autumn so we should have swathes of crocus, hosts of golden daffodils and mixed tulips appearing next spring. I'm sure residents will let us know what they think of them at the time.
We've had some discussions about the playing of inappropriate ball games on some of the medium sized plots of green in the area, especially at the moment on Hindhead, but without reaching any solutions. It's a real tragedy that the handful of young people who misuse the school playing fields and vandalise the buildings have led to all youngsters being deterred from using them to kick a ball about. We'll keep working on it but I don't hold out a lot of hope at present.
I spent a sizeable part of Tuesday evening and yesterday as part of a panel of members selecting a manager for the Stockton Darlington Partnership. This is one of those obviously sensible ideas which has only just become appropriate - the two boroughs are neighbours and both need to upgrade their ICT systems, make even more cost savings to keep within government targets and keep costs down for the Council Tax payers, and at the same time improve the services which the people of the two Boroughs get. The answer is to share some of the services which no-one sees but which keep the front-line services working - things like ICT, Design & Print, HR services. Work has been going on in the background for a couple of years, trying to see whether two different authorities could work together like this and earlier this year it was agreed that we could. Yesterday a Partnership Manager was appointed to take the vision into reality. It was a very difficult decision to make with some very good candidates and we're all left feeling that we'll only know for sure whether we chose the right one after a couple of years. For the sake of all the residents and staff I hope we did.
Later in the day, catching up on the e-mails which needed dealing with, I spent an interesting half hour chatting with the leader of the Labour Group about the regeneration projects in the borough and especially about the delays being caused by the local Urban Regeneration Company. I'm not au fait with all the details but it sounded to me as though the sooner ministers make a decision about funding channels to the city region the better.
The really good news of the day came late in the evening. An e-mail from the director of Neighbourhood Services told me that Stockton had won Best City in the Britain in Bloom awards. Yippee and congratulations all round! However, the results aren't on the RHS website yet so I can't get hold of any details except that I know we were awarded Silver Gilt, ahead of London Borough of Brent and Dundee who both got silver awards.

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