Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Not extremes of views but of ages today. I spent most of the daylight hours helping an elderly relative do some Christmas shopping - not very important you might think but to someone who only gets out of the house if someone takes her, it's very important. Sometimes we forget that losing the ability to do everyday things is one of the most upsetting parts of losing mobility. Not being able to carry a shopping bag nor to walk from one shop to another makes choosing surprise gifts for family and friends almost impossible. So, not something that's uniquely relevant to being a councillor, but definitely important.
A plea here, if any retailers should happen to read this: Designing a shop with wide aisles for easy access is brilliant, but filling those aisles with free-standing displays of easily damaged items is definitely not. We had to ignore 2 shops completely because we couldn't navigate the obstacle course.
In the evening there was a meeting of the full Council. Sometimes this is a fairly routine rubber-stamping exercise of receiving lots of minutes from Cabinet and committees which don't need any comment because it's all been said earlier in the process. Tonight's was different. Two questions from members of the public about issues dear to their hearts (Harold Macmillan and Tees Valley Metro) were followed by a number of questions on various matters from members of council. My colleague, John Fletcher, asked about the recent Tory leaflet which circulated in Eaglescliffe and worried a number of residents by claiming that the Council (and therefore us through Council Tax) would have to pay the costs incurred by the developer in the appeal over The Grange. The cabinet member responsible for planning matters reassured us that this is not the case - the appeal was a written appeal for which the council incurs no costs. We have enough problems without someone inventing phantom ones.
Then there were lots of issues raised about things in Cabinet minutes, followed by an emergency motion to be debated. The result of that is that Stockton Council has added its voice to the growing number objecting to the proposed transfer of 999 calls to Tyneside for the ambulance service. I was pleased that the meeting was a lively one, because one of the Youth reps on the Western Area Board accompanied me to the meeting as part of her time shadowing me as chair. Though I don't think it encouraged her to think in terms of being a councillor in the future, that wasn't the point. Few if any people are elected because they want to go to meetings - we're elected to do all the other things to make a difference and meetings are a necessary part of that.

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