Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The day started with a meeting to discuss Member Development - or how to train a councillor. Unlike well behaved dogs we don't always learn the lessons which are taught and there are constant efforts on the part of well meaning officers to encourage us down the "right" path. I did take the opportunity today to congratulate one department (Planning) on producing some very good training and suggested that others should consider taking a leaf out of their book. Unfortunately I and others also had to point out that the quality of some training is so poor that people not only don't learn but are put off training for some time.
The second item on the agenda was the snappily titled "New Executive Arrangements". The Westminster government has a real bee in its bonnet about local government and the need for "strong leadership". As a result we are being forced to consider only two choices for a change to happen in 2011. Either we have an elected mayor who then chooses a cabinet to work with him/her or we choose a leader of the council as we do now but s/he has a 4 year term instead of the present 1 year term. Change for change's sake I fear. We had a lengthy discussion about how to go about choosing and eventually decided that it would become a council vote on whether to go for a referendum or to make a choice as a council. Watch this space!
This evening's council meeting, all about the council plan and service improvement plans, provided a moment of light relief when a fellow councillor noticed in the papers that we would have an improvement strategy for "hard to reach" employees. When she asked me if I knew what they were I replied "The ones at the top of the ladder". Schoolgirl humour which gave us a moment of light relief from strategies and statistics. I hasten to add that we also asked some important questions and were given some important assurances about some services such as those for our most vulnerable residents.
And all that was achieved without being able to send a single e-mail by blackberry because of a fault with the server - technology isn't quite indispensable though we'd have got some things done a lot quicker with it working.

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