In this diary entry I will try and give a flavour of the kinds of things I get up to as a local councillor. So last week (week commencing 14th November 2011) unfolded as follows:-
Monday – I get up at about 6.30am. I am an early riser and anyway I am giving Rose a lift to work today. By 8am I am back in the house complete the quick crossword in the paper and then settle down to catch up on e-mails. It always surprises me how many e-mails are despatched to councillors each day. It is not unusual to receive over 30 in one day. They range from Council Press Releases (for information only); to updates on what is happening nationally and regionally; requests for information or help from local residents to minutes of meetings.
I spend a couple of hours managing the mail before setting off to meet John Denny (CEO of Chester & District Housing Trust ) to discuss where the merger process is with Cosmopolitan Housing Group and some internal issues.
Then off to spend a couple of hours with my mother as it is her birthday today before returning home to deal with some case work.
By 5.30 I am ready to leave the house for the CLASP (Chester Lodgings and Support Providers) a local charity of which I am a director. It is their AGM that evening. I spend a couple of hours there …… heard a fascinating talk by a local solicitor about dealing with the legal issues associated with fractured families and the emotional distress all involved go through.
I miss the Chester Liberal Democrats Executive meeting (I can’t be in two places at once sadly) and return home about 8.30 for a bite to eat, a glass of wine and catch up on what is happening on the television!
Tuesday – Up early. Do usual early morning routine before heading into Chester to meet fellow Liberal Democrat Derek Gaskill from Ellesmere Port. It is important I keep local Liberal Democrats up to speed with what CW&C is doing and the implications/opportunities that brings to local communities. It is also an opportunity for me to hear about local concerns and issues. I might be able to ask some questions to get clarity or to provide facts.
I find another meeting I had expected to attend had been cancelled a number of days ago. I had not brought my diary up to date! So back to the house before returning to town to attend Planning Committee.
There is an item on the agenda relating to a telecommunications mast application from one of the mobile phone operators that they intend to erect on land adjacent to Brookside Terrace in Hoole. It has caused some distress to local residents so I intend to represent those concerns to the planning committee.
Plenty of residents have turned up which is encouraging. One of their number stands up and addresses the committee. He is a little nervous but makes his points well. It is important, wherever possible residents turn up to these meetings …. it shows the concern and the distress and does make a difference. I make my presentation which seems to go down reasonably well.
Low and behold the committee turn the application down unanimously! An unexpected result but I am delighted for the residents who have campaigned so hard against this proposal.
This issue to me is an excellent example of the shortcomings of the planning process. There is no plan; no strategy in Chester to manage the burgeoning number of these masts (some 32 across Chester already with more planned). Surely as a city and as a council we must be better than this?
The application is not heard until about 6.30pm and I finally escape the HQ building about 7.30pm knowing I have missed the Chester & District Housing Trust Remuneration and Governance meeting and that the Eddisbury Liberal Democrats Constituency AGM is already underway in Norley! There is no chance of attending either so its back home for some dinner.
Wednesday – all day spent in appeals panels ……. in the morning hearing a staffing appeal for CW&C and in the afternoon two employee appeals for Chester & District Housing Trust
Thursday is spent doing some shopping ……. taking my mother to her doctors surgery …. writing a letter to the local paper about the implications of the proposed super surgery in Northgate on the people of Hoole (two of our surgeries are to be relocated there) …. the letter is not published which irritates me somewhat, and then a further review meeting with John Denny. The merger with Cosmopolitan Housing Group draws closer and there are a few issues that need addressing and some legal documents that need my signature.
I have a free evening.
Friday is spent having a walk round the old part of Hoole to see whether fly-tipping is as bad as ever (it is); so further phone calls to the council follow to try and get the worst removed; and further e-mails to council managers to encourage concerted action to improve the situation.
In the afternoon I have a couple of appointments with local residents who want to discuss issues with me.
Saturday – I attend a Liberal Democrat coffee morning (we need to raise funds) which is an opportunity to catch up with local activists and old friends before heading off to attend my regular saturday morning surgery.
This week I can only attend one (outside the Bromfield Arms on Faulkner Street between 11am and midday). We have a steady stream of callers …. some just for a chat but others bring horror stories of dog fouling and fly-tipping and concerns about Sainsbury’s plans to open a mini store on Faulkner Street.
I watch my beloved Chester Football Club play in the afternoon (we win) before heading back to Hoole for the Christmas Lights switch on at 5.45. Phew just make it!
Sunday I take some FOCUS (our Hoole Lib Dem Newsletter) to a number of deliverers and deliver 1 round myself before heading home and a quiet rest of day.