Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Money reared its head again this morning when I had a meeting with a member of the Independent Remuneration Panel. This is the body which recommends levels of allowances for Councillors, trying to take into account all factors including how much time we spend doing things as a councillor, how much responsibility we take on over and above our ward and basic committee work and local expectations and attitudes. They had one try last year but the council couldn't reach agreement on some of their proposals so we asked them to try again, listening to what came out of the various discussions over the year. We shall see what happens this time, but one thing's for sure - Stockton Councillors get a lower allowance than almost any other equivalent council and the work we do doesn't get any easier.
At lunch time it was Fairtrade Borough group meeting with a very small turnout of committed people. It's proving quite difficult to get people to meetings at the moment and yet we need more help than ever to fulfill the plans we have.
Today we spent some time planning for the stall we intend to have at the Greener Living Road Show in Preston Park on June 8th. If you're in the area do pop in and see what's on offer - lots of things apart from Fairtrade. The range seems to run from wind turbines to hybrid cars and healthy walks - something for just about everyone I think.
A real contrast later in the afternoon when I paid a visit to Challoner House in Yarm. This was a residential home for elderly people until quite recently but is now being converted into a community centre. It was strange to walk into somewhere which is being hired out for meetings and community activities and see the bookcase still in the corner, full of books. Strong, high seated armchairs and china ornaments around the room all spoke of its previous life and looked so nice and clean that I fully expected a resident to walk in at any moment. We'll be able to use it for some of our Western Area Partnership board meetings, taking the meetings out into the heart of one community they're supposed to serve.
I hope the centre is a success for the people who live around that area, because it's in a lovely setting and would be tragic to lose.
After that the sun called me out into the garden to do the weeding that didn't get done at the weekend. My compost bin is now nicely filled so I need to let it rot down a bit before putting any more in - what a good excuse for a bit of pruning of the bramble! That's the only sort of garden waste which goes in the green waste bags from this household - even if we shredded it the result would be full of thorns and not very user friendly.

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