Attended member development meeting. This is an all-party steering group supporting the role of councillor in working positively for their communities. The main issue on the agenda was preparations for a councillor workshop on ‘The Big Society’ and working with the voluntary sector.
Attended Stretford Neighbourhood Forum at Town Hall – Poorly attended meeting – residents easily outnumbered by officers and councillors. Really don’t like the Town Hall as a neighbourhood venue. Topics covered included preparing for the Census and the Local Transport Plan.
Following the forum, the Labour Group met to discuss Wednesday’s forthcoming Council Meeting. I noticed that the Conservatives were meeting at the same time and we exited to the car-park at exactly the same time. Get the impression Wednesday is going to be a pantomime. It was certainly frostier in the car park.
In the morning I met Sharon Richardson who is head of Access Trafford encompassing the library service and contact centres. I’m extremely supportive of the work that’s going on with this directorate. We know that libraries are cited as one of the first targets for cuts in local authorities across the UK. By integrating the provision of library services with the contact points for the public to report problems, we give the libraries a better chance of survival in the battle to justify their existence against other priority services.
I still suspect that when Trafford’s spending review is released, we’ll need to be ready to fight for library services.
A series of blatantly party-politically motivated Trafford Council Press Releases each aimed at a specific Labour motion tabled for the following night’s Council meeting – It’s easy to get too precious over this but the neutrality of our public servants is a treasured tradition. Our elections change the politicians; whilst our public servants provide continuity and impartial expertise. I wasn’t impressed that the ‘Trafford Council’ Press Office were being asked to do the Conservative Party’s job in putting out pre-emptive dissimulation on Labour’s motions.
I’m not going to pretend that this was as bad as Thatcher’s politicisation of the police in the 1980s, and had these been Tory Party releases, I’ve no problem. But if the Tory executive is expecting council employees to operate on behalf of the Conservative Party’s interests as opposed to the interests of Trafford’s residents, it’s a really disappointing deterioration. Regrettably it seems to be part of a trend.
So Tuesday afternoon was dominated by getting our message out to the local press.
Delivered a leaflet round and worryingly became unwell whilst out. Forced to miss evening’s council meeting.
Met with Joanne Hyde, the head of HR at Trafford Town Hall. There’s more that can be done to reduce duplication across the different directorates and some good progress is taking place.
Later I was really impressed to get a GP’s appointment on the same day. I’m proud of improvements that Labour made in the NHS during our time in Government. Delamere Medical Centre is such a contrast to the old cramped conditions we used to have.
Stretford BioMass Plans apparently submitted although the application is not yet processed so we’re still waiting for the documents to be published and a reference number to be allocated. However I successfully made representations on the length of the consultation period. Given the festive season I argued for 35 days rather than the normal 21/28 days. This has been granted.
We received the news that Trafford Healthcare Trust was seeking a larger trust to take it over. My instinctive and immediate reaction is to support this,although we have to look at the detail. Trafford General (Park Hospital) does have problems caused by its smaller comparative size.
Christmas CLP meeting in the evening.
Monthly Surgery – One Client
Attended Trafford’s Display on the Town Hall development. I’m still disappointed that the Council accommodation seems to turn away from the public. I’d like to see the council chamber become almost a public arena. The emphasis of the development is to allow hotdesking and similar and there’s much talk of breakout rooms. I’m not convinced we need to knock down existing offices to create this.
Heartened by the protests by UK Uncut. At last someone people are getting angry over the way the elite rip us off. This has the potential to grow into the most important movement since Aldermaston.