Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I listened to a phone message left yesterday for me, pointing out the grammatical error in a Focus article on the new Mayor! Mea culpa. I wrote that particular article and did indeed slip into a common error, so I hope readers will forgive me. The lady who so politely pointed it out to me didn't leave a contact number or name so I can't apologise to her personally.
I had an unusual experience this morning in having everyone else in a committee meeting sympathise with me! The sympathy was too late because they should have spoken up at a previous forum when their views would have changed what happened. As it is, the Environment Select committee is stuck with reviewing something which none of us want to review and which won't help the people of the borough one little bit, all because not one other group would agree with us at the crucial moment. Yet again the Liberal Democrats are proved right, but it's not much consolation.
The Fairtrade group meeting at lunch time was much more positive, with some good ideas on how to move forward. Possible links with the embryo multi-faith forum and with the Local Strategic Partnership were suggested, as well as a way of approaching one of the big businesses in the borough. Really positive results from a relatively brief meeting. Of course, if any Stockton resident reading this is interested in being part of the group, do get in touch.
Then it was another change of hat to go to a meeting with the new Integrated Service Area Manager for the south of the borough. This is someone who's going to oversee all the services for children and young people in Thornaby, Ingleby Barwick, Yarm, Eaglescliffe and the villages surrounding them. We discussed the main issues for the Western Area (Eaglescliffe, Yarm, Kirklevington, Long Newton etc), including the difficulty of finding premises for a Childrens' centre in Eaglescliffe and of finding suitable places for young people to kick a ball about without upsetting the neighbours. Both are huge challenges and won't be solved overnight but at least we're talking about them and trying to find a way round. The one thing which might happen more easily is developing some way of allowing young people to have a voice in the area. We had a very successful day in Norton with some youngsters from Egglescliffe and Conyers schools but we need to be able to have regular communication with youngsters from all round the area. One or two ideas were floated and will be discussed further. It's all so painfully slow though. I've been trying to do this kind of thing for about 4 years and it's still only at the discussion stage.

These things pale into insignificance when viewed against the news from China and Burma of people trying desperately to help those who are suffering from two huge natural disasters. It was very humbling to catch a snippet on the TV news of a business which had collected what sounded like a paltry sum to western ears, but had bought water and cake and taken it to the disaster zone to distribute. Ordinary people doing what they can - that's what makes a difference.

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