Thursday, October 01, 2009

For the first time in a long while I took an hour out to walk today with no other purpose than to enjoy it. From Municipal Buildings down to the riverside footpath, along to the Infinity Bridge and over to the south side of the river, along the much less used path to the Millennium Bridge and over into the town centre. It's interesting and a little sad that the part of the path which runs beside buildings full of staff doesn't get walked on enough to kill the weeds which sprout up between the paving blocks. We need to encourage the people working in those offices to get out and enjoy the riverside on that side -it's too nice to waste.
Just time to pick up some Christmas cards for Sunday's Fairtrade stall and then it was off to the Library for the Cabinet meeting. This doesn't usually give rise to much debate but I couldn't help pointing out the irony of cabinet congratulating itself on being ahead of the game on Carbon Reduction strategies while sitting under an overhead projector which was switched on in readiness for a presentation to be made an hour and a half later!
The biggies on tonight's agenda were the Business Case for Building Schools for the Future which went through with no real comment from cabinet despite it depending on being able to sell the land on which closing schools stand for housing development; the pressures on Social workers at present owing to the continuing increase in referrals of children suspected of being abused in one way or another - no easy answers there as there's no end in sight to the problem and no bottomless pit of money to pay the extra staff and hours needed; Billingham Town centre, delayed yet again; and the economic climate which is looking slightly more positive with B&M taking over the old Woolworths store, opening on 14th Oct, and a few other retailers showing a great interest in the town along with one or two companies taking on more staff.
The cabinet meeting was followed by an update on the NHS Momentum plans - all very positive and not really looking at the possibility of not getting the money to carry on with the new way of working. I suppose it wouldn't do to come along and admit that of course if the government pulls the plug on spending it won't go ahead!
I was pleased to hear that they're expecting to have as a condition of the planning permission for the new hospital that the community facilities in Hartlepool, Billingham, Stockton and Yarm have to be up and running first. That's the best bit of the whole proposal. A nice new hospital will be a bonus but if we all have to have cars to access a range of treatment and diagnosis we won't be happy. The community facilities will allow basic x-ray and ultrasound, some simple surgery, plastering, maternity and childcare, physio and other therapies which currently are in hospital. It can't come soon enough in my opinion and I look forward to it. Next Friday will be the special planning committee which will give Stockton's response to the plans in readiness for Hartlepool's meeting the following week to determine the application.

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