Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Go and make your voice heard"

Not my words but those of Kate Adie, guest speaker at the Ladies' Lunch in aid of the George Hardwick Foundation. This is a wonderful charity which cares for carers, supporting them in their caring role, enabling them to have a little time to themselves, offering counselling and advice. Although some of their work is funded by Stockton Borough Council they have to raise lots of money each year to keep their premises intact and to advertise their services to the thousands of carers who don't yet know about the help and support that's available.
Kate spoke about her early years in local radio with BBC Durham and her transition to TV reporter and emphasised that she really learned all she knows in those years in Durham. She talked about the good reporter who listens to people and doesn't just jump in with comments.
She talked about the contribution local radio has made to bringing into the forefront of the nation's mind such issues as carers' needs - never discussed in the early 60s because the person needing care was seen as some kind embarrassment. But she also reminded us that we still have a long way to go and suggested strongly that more women need to get involved in politics, locally as well as nationally. "Volunteer to be a local councillor" she said. "Go and stand for Parliament". She commented that women couldn't possibly make a worse mess of the budget, the banks and international relations than men had and we'd probably make it a lot better. After all, who does all the day to day budgeting in the country? Women of course! Who mediate day in, day out in the home - women of course.
So I echo Kate Adie's words - let's have more women involved. If anyone wants more information on being a councillor, just get in touch.
While we were enjoying a lovely lunch in beautiful surroundings Alistair Darling was talking up his 2nd budget. I caught up with it later in the day and wasn't very impressed. A real missed opportunity and a real mix of previously announced changes, previously leaked changes and borrowing. The level of debt he's prepared to incur is terrifying. I look at our grandchildren and wonder how old they'll be before this slab of debt is paid off. I don't know that it'll be in my lifetime.
This morning we heard the news that the Tee Valley hadn't been granted City Region status, despite lots of encouraging noises in recent weeks from ministers and government spokespeople. It doesn't mean that we lose any money, just a bit of prestige and we have to work harder for the flexibility we'd hoped for in using our money across the area. However, Tees Valley Unlimited is down but not out, and the region will go on to greater things I'm sure. We will co-operate because it's the only sensible way to achieve what we want for our residents.

And at the end of a long day, time to catch up on e-mails and phone calls. Parking, new fences, old walls, children and ball games - It's fun being a councillor, honestly. Take Kate Adie's advice and try it - make your voice heard.

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