Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Partnership Working

The word partnership is a much overused word in local government. There are times when it seems that everything is supposedly done in partnership with someone else but more often than not the benefits are hard to identify. This morning was not one of those occasions. As a member of Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council (formerly Egglescliffe Parish council) I chair the recreation committee. This is not a council that has active party politics. Everyone is there with the good of the Parish at heart and mostly with no party affiliations at all so it's quite different to Stockton Council.
Unusually for a Parish in Stockton-on-Tees this one provides and maintains play equipment on 4 play areas. For years we've acknowledged that the play equipment wasn't as good as it could be but we always shied away from putting up the Council Tax to pay for more. This year we decided that we would bite the bullet. We also decided that we needed some help to plan the play areas properly and then we'd have a plan to work to over the next few years. This morning I had a meeting with another member of the committee, the clerk and two officers from SBC who have the expertise we lack. It was a long and very useful meeting, at the end of which we had confirmed that partnership really can be useful when both sides approach it with a "can do" attitude. As a result we'll have something concrete to report to residents at the Annual Parish Meeting next week.
This afternoon saw the site visit to Aislaby Road to look at the works that have been done and now are the subject of a retrospective planning application for a greyhound training premises. The application has been the subject of a huge amount of correspondence, some of it distinctly dubious. For example I discovered that someone had written apparently in my name but giving an address in another part of Eaglescliffe. That piece of correspondence has now disappeared from the website. A councillor who usually sits on the planning committee has fettered his discretion by writing in favour of the application. The leader of the labour group, who has said many times in the past that we don't need site visits and they're a waste of money, came today along with his deputy leader. All of which leads me to think that there's going to be an interesting meeting tomorrow.

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