Monday, September 24, 2007

The weekend flew by in a haze of housework and furniture removal in readiness for the twin joys of seeing relatives we haven't seen for years and having a new floor laid in our main living room. The house is now reasonably presentable apart from the rooms which are storing the furniture we moved!
This afternoon started with the kick-off meeting for the Environment Select committee's next scrutiny, trying to work out what the scope of the review should be and what information we need gathered together. We'll be looking at the Borough Waste and Recycling strategy, trying to determine the best way of moving forward over the next 5 years or so. Which of the kerbside recycling collections are worth carrying on; which if any should be dropped or increased; should we move to fortnightly collections of residual waste; what's the total environmental impact of the strategy we have at present and how can it be reduced? Lots of interesting and challenging questions which the review will attempt to answer in order to come up with a policy fit for purpose. There'll be a need for a lot of engagement with press and public to keep everyone informed of any proposed changes and also to try to gather evidence of any problems people are having.
Three of us went straight from that to the meeting of the Select Committee to hear evidence from the memorial masons and the Funeral Directors on what memorials they think are suitable for our cemeteries and any problems they've had with the present arrangements. They are certainly outspoken on what they want to be allowed and what Stockton Council should be doing but some of their evidence raised questions rather than answered them and didn't always ring true with other evidence we have had from other sources. However, they did raise one good point - that if anything other than the headstone is to be allowed we need to be clear about how it's going to be removed when a grave is needing to be reopened to add a body and also whose responsibility it is to remove it.
The third meeting of the day was the Western Area Partnership Board which has agreed to move to monthly meetings now that our agendas seem to be of increasing length. Tonight's meeting had very little opportunity for discussion but still lasted over 2 hours. We agreed that in October we'll put in an extra meeting to discuss the Building Schools for the Future programme especially as it applies in the Western Area. We also heard from our young representative, Alice, that the youth club in Yarm has moved premises and is now at Layfield Primary rather than Conyers. The Crime Reduction Partnership reported that crime in the Western Area is significantly lower than elsewhere in the borough which is lower than in similar boroughs in the country so we ought to feel much more secure than perhaps we do. Maybe we need to spend some more effort on improving perceptions as the perception seems to be that crime is getting worse.

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