Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tonight's full council meeting started with a mix of happy and sad items.  Tributes were paid to Norman Teasdale from all sides of the council, people who'd known him as a teacher, those who'd worked with him as a councillor and perhaps most telling of all a story from one councillor who never actually met Norman.  Mick told of a young man coming up to him to ask if it was true that Norman had died.  When asked why he was so interested the young man explained that Norman had been the only teacher who cared and without him this young man would perhaps have ended up in prison.  That's a real tribute.
There was a tribute to the borough too from The Rifles, thanking us for the welcome they had experienced when receiving and exercising their Freedom of the Borough.  We're often told that a smile costs nothing and these men and women had very much appreciated the smiles, cheers and warmth of their welcome.  However much we regret or disagree with the war in which they're engaged I'm sure we all want them back safely and are proud of the way in which they carry out the political will of the country.
Parks & Green Spaces Award
We went on to celebrate the achievements of various services in the council. An officer who till tonight had only been a name on emails warning us of road works etc.was commended by utility companies for the way in which he deals with them when doing work in this borough.  We ward councillors appreciate the way he keeps them up to scratch with signing work correctly and cleaning up after themselves. I thought it was particularly gratifying that this award went to a person who had been recognised by different utility companies as being exceptionally good at his work.
Then it was on to a series of awards for growing things - Parks & green spaces, Northumbria in Bloom and finally the European crown of Entente Florale.
Council of the Year award
And last but by no means least, the APSE award for the best council services - not an easy award to win but judged by people who look at other councils up and down the country so they know what they're looking at.
All very cheering as we look forward with some degree of trepidation to the budget settlements which will come in detail over the next few weeks.
Questioning by Suzanne Fletcher led to the discovery that we do monitor previous regeneration schemes, but some doubt over what exactly is monitored.  If it's only the things which go wrong that's less useful than also monitoring the things that work well over a number of years.  Either way, we are promised more detail so we might find that a lot more is known about what's gone well and badly in the past and can use them to learn from for the future.
Discussion on the state of the river bank on the Thornaby side of the Tees showed again the problems left behind by the Teeside Development Corporation.  It probably did some very good work but it also left some messes - bits of land not being properly maintained by the owners presumably because the need to do so wasn't put into the contract strictly enough.  As a result, Stockton is still trying to chase up companies to do their bit, years and years after it should have been sorted out.

The leader of the council did make a brief reference to the CSR at the end of the meeting but I decided I needed to read the detail more closely before I could make any comment, save to say that I'm glad the Tees Valley major bus scheme is going ahead after all the preliminary work that's gone into it.

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