Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Faith & Belief

The day's meetings started with a good discussion with the Town Centre manager and one of her staff about what might be done in terms of Fairtrade promotion in the Borough over the next year. It was very useful to be able to exchange thoughts about what could have gone better this year and to realise what a gulf of understanding there'd been between us on what each had capacity to do. It should mean that next year is much better organised.
We chose our meeting place so that Suzanne Fletcher and I could leave to go upstairs at 3 to the Faith & Belief in Stockton event. For some years now, ever since the Western Area Partnership Board came into being, I've argued that the churches in the Western Area were as much a part of the community as the community groups and residents groups and so they should have a place on the Board. I've been told, usually politely, that this wasn't what the local strategic partnership was about! Today, we finally had a meeting with all faiths & belief systems invited, to hear about what happens regionally and in our neighbouring borough. Out of that we hope to have a group which will be much more part of the thinking in the borough, including the LSP. So not yet a miracle but perhaps a little seedling and I like to think that my harping on about it has played a little part.
A bonus was the fact that one of the very interesting stalls was run by the Muslim community in Thornaby and I was given a copy of an English Translation of the Koran as well as some other literature about Islam. I had such a long and interesting conversation with the gentleman running the stall that I didn't get to all of the others!
The bad thing of the event was that Stockton council was giving away plastic carrier bags to hold your goodies! Plastic - I ask you! The Arc had good recycling boxes but they would have needed bigger ones to hold what was given away this afternoon.
And then it was on to council - lots of questions, some interesting and some less so. Suzanne Fletcher asked about the Area Bus Forums which had been promised and we were told that they would be discussed at the Area Transport Strategy meetings, but I hadn't been told that when I had my briefing as chair!
We had a debate about some possible corrections to the minutes of one of the committees, as well as some quite lengthy questions on other minutes. John handled it all very well in his first meeting as mayor, but it must have been a real headache for him. I'm just glad it wasn't me in the chair.

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