Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Maps, Governance and Young People

What do they all have in common? Mainly the fact that they were the topics of my three "council activities" today. I actually started with an early session to arrange some dates to make progress on getting a report through the relevant stages in the right order. Then a brief session to ask a couple of officers for help with practical issues arising out of yesterday's climate change event. Then to the first "proper" session of the day, a training on using the council's Geographic Information Service. This is a really useful tool for finding out all sorts of information about the borough based on the geographic location. Things like how big a plot of land is, who's responsible for land in council ownership (education or leisure or any number of other departments), the location and ID number of streetlights are all there if we know how to find them. I already use the system quite a bit but this was a session to explore the more advanced tools within it. I found it interesting, and I learned what a few of the tools are which I haven't yet used but very well might in the future. There's a public version on Stockton's website which readers might find useful or interesting, or even both.
From there it was back to Eaglescliffe for a meeting of colleagues to discuss some issues around future governance in Stockton. Central government is pressing for change although with no clear reason as to why we should change something which works well enough to have Stockton assessed as Excellent for a number of years running. There's also no clear indication of how changing governance would improve on this excellence. Change for change's sake it seems. Nevertheless I'm not and never have been a King Canute caricature, nor am I the little boy with my finger in the dyke. If change is inevitably going to be pushed upon us it behoves us to be as well prepared as possible and to have taken note of all the information and suggestions coming out on the subject, hence our meeting today.
And so to youth! Unfortunately the Youth Worker we were expecting didn't arrive but it was a constructive meeting with the local beat bobby and as ward councillors we're better informed than we were. We could also alert him to things we'd been told by residents and decide on some small things we can try to do while the longer term plans for improved play areas which are being made by the Parish Council are brought to fruition. Nothing very comforting for residents who're being plagued by the few bad apples but at least we know we've done what we can.

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