Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's been a busy couple of days with interviews for a new Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services, Stockton Renaissance, Ward surgery, meetings about the Western Area Partnership and links with the other areas, and Play Partnership Board. Add to that the continued distribution of the Fairtrade Directory and some "normal life" and there aren't enough hours in the day.
The Development and Neighbourhood Services section of the council deals with Planning, Bins, Recycling, Roads, Footpaths, Environmental Health, Stray Dogs, Animal welfare, Cemeteries, Supporting businesses, Flower beds and countless other things which have a significant and often visible impact on our lives. Finding the right person to head it wasn't easy - more than 20 people applied and we could only appoint one of them. Not for the first time we wished that we could take a bit of one and add it to another to make an even better fit for the job! But Bionic man is still the stuff of fiction so we have to settle on one and hope that we've made the best choice. I'm sure we have in this case and that the new man will do an excellent job at a difficult economic time.
At Renaissance we'd the other end of the scale in a sense - a presentation about the work of the Asylum Support Team in the council and some of the other groups which help asylum seekers and refugees in the Tees Valley including Justice First, one of the charities being supported by the Mayor this year. It was a refreshing change from the slick presentations usually delivered by officers who've done it countless times before. This was in part delivered by a young woman seeking asylum after dreadful experiences in Iran and being thwarted at every turn by the bureaucracy of the UK system. Her English wasn't perfect and her story wasn't smooth and well rehearsed. She was a human being speaking of inhuman treatment and how she copes while she waits and prays for the legal wheels to grind, oiled only by human kindness and charity.
At the Play Partnership meeting this afternoon I heard that the allocations of funding from Playbuilder funds is almost settled so it should only be a couple of weeks before groups like Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council find out if they've been successful in their bid for help towards the cost of upgrading St Margarets play area. Fingers crossed.
And in between between us in the ward we've tried to resolve issues around street lighting, parking, HGVs travelling on the section of A67 they're not supposed to venture on to, broken glass on footpaths and so ad infinitum it seems. And the sun shone in a blue sky for most of the time that I was indoors!
This is the variety of a councillor's week and it's what makes life so interesting.

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