Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Frustrations, frustrations

A dry evening yesterday gave the opportunity for Alan, John and I to go out and survey a couple of streets in the ward. We do this from time to time because it's a good way to speak to residents who don't usually contact us, to find out what their concerns are and their views on a number of issues. Last night we covered Hindhead, Holywell Green and part of Monmouth Drive. We also spoke to three polite and interested young men who were about to play football but stopped to ask what we were doing and then to complete a survey themselves.
The return rate was very good, with people completing them for us to call back in half an hour and others agreeing to drop them through my letterbox. So far we've had a good lot back. What's frustrating is the number of people who respond with quite a serious issue and don't put their contact details on so we can't follow it up with them. Sadly, a number of people referred to bad language from young people and to damaged fences & gardens as a result of football games.
Following up on that issue will take a bit of time but at least the person in charge of the youth service in our area is willing to meet us and discuss how to take things forward so I'm waiting to hear from other people whether they'll come and join in the debate.
This morning I saw another side to the relationship of young people with their community. Teesside High School Roseberry House had arranged a coffee morning and cake stall to raise money for two very good causes - a leukaemia charity and Stop the Trafik, which aims to stop People trafficking. The girls had done a great deal of the organising themselves and were justly proud of their work. They'd baked cakes and arranged a tempting choice of coffee, tea, chocolate and juice - all Fairtrade which made it even better. They'd told parents and put out 500 flyers around the area. Sadly, only about a dozen people made the effort to visit. Other girls from the school made short work of the cakes and they raised a good amount of money but that wasn't the only point of the morning. Such a lot of effort and only a handful of adults could be bothered.

Planning Committtee this afternoon produced another lot of frustrations. First of all my colleague Julia Roberts discovered that a retrospective application in her ward which is causing a lot of angst wasn't going to be determined this afternoon because it didn't have all the right documentation. A change in the rules had caught everyone on the hop! The application in Eaglescliffe for warehousing on land near Elementis on Urlay Nook Rd was deferred at the last minute because a road safety issue had been spotted by the engineers who'd missed it until the morning of the committee meeting! That despite having lots of comments from residents about the road safety issues. The process for determining whether the demolition of Wainstones was going to be carried out properly wasn't clear enough for most of us to be happy with it. Some probably thought deferral would save the house. I'm not so optimistic but I do want to be sure that everything has been done properly. I don't want to be half way through the demolition when someone discovers that we should have looked at the bat surveys. The decision on what to include on the local list was also open to a great deal of discussion but we did eventually get agreement that the minutes of the meeting and the assessment of each building would be made public. I'm less convinced that the process of information/consultation now is clear. There seemed to be some doubt as to what exactly is going to happen but I think (hope) that the doubt was because some members of the committee weren't understanding the answers they were being given at times.
So not the best meeting in the year!
Happier news on a personal front was discovering when I got home an email from someone who turns out to be a very distant relative in New Zealand - the joys of the internet!

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