Thursday, December 20, 2007

End of Term Feeling

This should have been a quiet day, leading to the Christmas holiday closedown. But no! First of all I needed to understand one of the reasons for refusal of a planning application in the ward for a children's play centre. The planning officer concerned did explain it very clearly to me, and I can understand now why it happened though I have some sympathy for the applicant who is passionately enthusiastic and for the parents who would like to have a centre like that within easy reach. I'd like to think that a suitable site could be found for what sounds like an exciting opportunity.
Then it was time to go and spend some time with family before heading to Stockton Parish Church for the Civic Carol Service. This was a great chance to enjoy some traditional Christmas carols and readings marred by the freezing temperature in the church which has been without heating for some weeks now. It's a shame to see such a lovely building in such a bad state of repair but I know that things are moving, albeit very slowly. Roseworth School choir sang with great gusto and put us all to shame by apparently not feeling the cold at all. Their smiles told of the pleasure they get from making music and I hope it stays with them into their teens and beyond. Afterwards, at the reception in the Town Hall, I had the opportunity to catch up with one or two members of Stockton Male Voice Choir whom I used to see regularly when Denis sang with them years ago.
Cabinet was the last engagement of the year, and it included a report proposing consultations on the future of the last remaining residential home for the elderly in the borough. It's a fairly old building in need of some significant investment if it's to stay open. The people who have relatives there or who work there think it's a wonderful place, caring and home-like. So the council has to take a difficult decision - spend a lot of money on bringing it up to standard and making sure that the present residents are comfortable while the work is going on or close the home and try to make sure that the residents are found places that suit their needs elsewhere. There's to be consultation but also a review of all the evidence by the Adult Services & Health Select Committee to make sure that all evidence has been looked at and properly evaluated. I must admit that I'm glad I don't chair that committee. I wouldn't like to have a subject like that dumped on me at a moment's notice. Whichever decision is taken the people who currently live in the home will suffer disruption and that's going to be difficult for them, their families and the staff who care for them.
At least that's the last of the formal meetings for the year though there'll be e-mails I'm sure and phone calls. Now it's time to settle to the last stages of preparing for Christmas. Deck the halls with boughs of holly etc.

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