Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I spent the morning delivering our regular Focus leaflets around a part of the ward where our volunteer deliverer couldn't do it this time. I enjoy the chance to really walk parts where I don't usually go - every little twist and turn of a small road leading to nowhere other than those houses. These quiet corners don't often produce problems but like the quiet children in a classroom that's no excuse for ignoring them.
A frustrating interlude with ICT equipment not working as it should and then off to a meeting that was nothing to do with being a councillor but everything to do with being a person. It was refreshing to hear someone talk about their vision for making things better and the limitations of budget and resource that slowed down the achievement of the vision without any party political overtones. It was a genuine discussion about ways we could achieve more. I just wish there were more meetings like that.
This evening's council meeting was somewhat less good tempered. Before it started the Mayor showed the gifts which had been given by the Yorkshire Regiment on their march through the town in June. One was made from a Russian shell case - no doubt we'll hear the rest of the story at some point!
The Protect Preston Park group had brought their 7200 signature petition to present and had assembled a good number of supporters outside to greet councillors as they arrived. They were noisy and it obviously upset some people who think that council meetings are all about quietly rubber stamping cabinet decisions.
The two representatives handed over the petition and the Mayor broke with protocol to ask if they wanted to say a few words. David Winship spoke with dignity and conviction and I thought it added to the occasion. Meanwhile other supporters sat upstairs in the gallery to watch and yet more sat in the committee room where they could hear the procedings though not see them. They had a superb map showing the distribution of signatures but weren't able to take it into the council chamber.
The rest of the council meeting seemed to be a competition to see who could say the most - the Labour Leader having a go at my attitude to the budget under the guise of speaking to a cabinet minute, numerous people jumping up to add their twopennorth, the chair of the Children & Young People committee telling us what a wonderful meeting they'd had, speeches and questions going on for longer than usual. There was the usual Labour/Tory stitch up to ensure that our nomination for a member of a charitable trust didn't get elected. The motion expressing disappointment about the removal of the funding for the new hospital was passed unanimously and unsurprisingly. We'd all like to have better health facilities, the only issue is how to pay for them. However, the council is now committed to working with all possible partners to bring the Momentum project back on track and that's all to the good.

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