Thursday, 13 November 2014

DT's Month

October was an encouraging settling-in period for our new leader.  As I said in an earlier blog, different style but same aims.  One change is that we now have cross-party Cabinet Advisory Committees, and I am looking forward to getting involved on the two I am on.  At first glance it certainly looks like it will give us backbenchers more of a feeling that we are contributing.

In ward context I managed to have a fruitful meeting with my colleagues, albeit 'busy' as it was during a ward surgery.  Usually a quieter session, but of course on this occasion everyone turned up with their various issues!

The most inspiring event of the month was definitely listening to some of the cast - all local to Townhill - talking about their experiences being involved in the TV series Lovely Ugly Swansea.  This was part of the Dylan Thomas celebrations, as in the programmes where they put on a variation of his Under Milk Wood - indeed a very fitting tribute to the man. 

Les

Monday, 6 October 2014

All Change!

Change of leader - different style but same priorities, with a continued aim to help some of the less well off areas of Swansea.  So it's been an interesting month!

Not that busy council wise for me.  Had a week off in the middle (bowls widow, although be warned if you watch too many matches it does get a bit addictive!)  Instead it was more of a 'political' month.

Certainly the Scottish Referendum livened things up a bit.  Apart from anything else what a fantastic turnout - if only we could get people as engaged at election times.  And whilst I really can understand, empathise even, with those who voted 'yes', I was so glad that the majority said 'no'. 


I also had a really positive day out in Manchester, going to a Movement for Change meeting.  As you know I have been a staunch member of the Swansea Bay Fair Credit group, which has been trying to curb some of the more dubious practices of certain payday loan companies.  At this event a young mother from Swansea was awarded Activist of the Year for her part in fighting her corner, and encouraging others to seek alternative ways of getting loans.  A
group of women refugees were also inspiring, who gave their harrowing stories with such dignity.  On the plus side some of us managed to find a decent eatery and a lovely pub.  On the downside was the 10 hours of travel the so called 'executive' coach, possibly the most uncomfortable bone shaker ever!

Les

Friday, 5 September 2014

Same old, same old ... but a bit different!

The month saw the usual round of meetings :

TOPIC House PACT, a bit quieter than usual with not too many queries to follow up.

Audit follows a cycle of agenda items but from time to time will investigate a specific issue, which was the case at this meeting.  Councillors then asked probing questions of the officers present, both to get to the bottom of difficulties that had been encountered, and help provide a way forward.

Full Council was fairly straightforward, with a joint presentation by the Leader and Director for People, on future strategy to address poverty. A lot needs to be done - the task is both huge & complex - but you have to start somewhere. 

DMCC - the full planning group - in the main picked up on planning applications which had been deferred from one of the two sub-committees, to allow for discussion by all councillors.

Equalities was dedicated to looking at the requirements in Wales regarding the Welsh Language.  This can be a bit of a thorny topic as the council does a balancing act between adhering to the law, which gives English & Welsh equal parity, yet being very aware of current budget restrictions.  Not surprisingly a lively debate ensued!

August surgery in the ward was the busiest ever!  

Jeff & I always deliver a few leaflets over the weekend 
to remind people and this time it certainly worked.  Although most enquiries were from those I'd met before 
there were still some new faces with new issues.

Had another positive meeting looking at how to bring the Boys & Girls Club back into life, this time open to the public.  There were a few words of caution by some in the audience, but it got the backing of the majority of those present, most of whom came up with great ideas on how to make use of the centre.

So on the whole its future looks good.

Les

Thursday, 21 August 2014

And still busy!

I started this a couple of weeks ago - just pretend you're reading it early August! 

A variety of different meetings (as well as the usual) in July ...

Attended a Streetscene Inquiry scrutiny meeting - somehow missed this completely when it first started last year but joined it for the last couple of sessions.  Hoping some good practical solutions will come out of it - to change areas that are currently flytipping dumps, tackle rubbish & litter in general, help encourage recycling etc ....

Then met up with two of the local housing officers on a grey morning to check the issues along Pantycelyn Road.  For those who don't know, the view from here can be spectacular, but sadly not when it's doing Welsh drizzle which is seeping through your clothing because you haven't got a coat!!!  However one thing 'shone' through despite the rain, the wonderful array of wild flowers on the corner of Dyfed & Penygraig.  I'm biased but I reckon this is one the best spots across the whole of Swansea where we have given this idea a go - do hope we can continue this trend.

With Student Liaison I'm very pleased that we have kicked one of the additional meetings into touch.  Whilst it was aiming at a different audience it more or less replicated the other forum so we have managed to combine them.  Less time wasted so I reckon this should be more productive.

But the best meeting of the month, without a doubt, was one to discuss the future of the Boys & Girls Club (the sign on the building actually says 'Girls & Boys Club!) on 'the hill'.  It crosses the border of Castle & Townhill and if all goes to plan will be rejuvenated once more.  No guarantees of course as we need both the support and practical help from residents, and others have tried yet failed before, but the enthusiasm of those putting the proposals
forward
- the Boys' & Girls' Club of Wales - is definitely catching.  Just hope it becomes really infectious!

Les

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

When I look at my diary June seems to be chocker full of meetings and appointments, although quite a few got cancelled for various reasons.  But I was certainly kept busy!

I went to a very interesting & lively meeting open to members of the public, looking at environmental issues.  All the usual suspects cropped up, problems with traffic, parking, rubbish, pot holes etc etc.  So now the trick is to take all these comments, feed them into the next Streetscene scrutiny inquiry panel meeting, and see if we can come up with some clever ideas to try & solve them, but without them costing too much money!  (I have now joined this panel - somehow it passed me by when it was first set up last year!)

Had another useful informal meeting (helped by the surroundings and liquid refreshment provided by the Queens!) of the Swansea Bay Fair Credit group.  We had a good discussion on  ideas for future action.  Here the trick is to keep the momentum going so we are always looking for fresh ways to highlight the issues of sky high interest rates versus affordable credit.  But with the support of Movement for Change we seem to keep coming up with the goods.


 

And my final council related meeting of the month - at Sea View school, also my last as a governor.  Over the past few months I have been finding it difficult to fit in the many events and other commitments that this role requires, and I don't like doing only half a job.  But by resigning I can still be a 'friend' of the school, being involved when I can, and someone else who hopefully has more time can take my place.  Win-win situation I think.

Bizarre moment of the Month - going up to TOPIC House for a PACT meeting, when there wasn't one!

Les

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Back in the groove

May has been a relatively quiet month for me on the council front particularly as I managed to have the most gloriously relaxing break for a week, away from council, business, et al.  But I have started to get back into the swing of things again after my eye ops (both appear to have gone OK, thank goodness!)

A couple of PACT meetings to start May off - one which I'm sure I've mentioned before is held in TOPIC House, Townhill, but is actually open to various groups
for the elderly which come from across Swansea.  These have remained well attended & successful. The other was one of the usual community centre bi-monthly meetings and in contrast decided to call a halt on them to review their usefulness, and look at whether other alternatives might be more suitable.  Interestingly, since then I have attended other community meetings, namely Communities 1st who already have a forum for residents to air views & issues, and the Hill Community Development Trust who will probably start having something along the same lines - these of course to complement, not duplicate, each other.

I also managed to fit in Sea View School's finance sub committee before my week away, and since then been to my usual planning meeting, and the most interesting meeting so far on the Local Development Plan.  I think before now I haven't really felt a connection with it - we meet at most twice a year - but now it's getting to the time when the proposed sites for future housing development are being opened up for consultation on a ward basis, so I feel more in tune with it.  It terms of the bigger picture the final outcome of this process may result in some interesting changes to the way Swansea looks in the future.

Les

Saturday, 3 May 2014

If a week is a long time ...

I’M BACK - AGAIN!!!

Yes I know it’s been ages, but since I last blogged I’ve had a lot of ‘life’ to contend with.  Back on track now, well at least until the next curve ball crops up!  So I thought I’d just give brief(ish) highlights …

Voted on the budget in February – not easy, and time will tell whether or not we’ve got it right.

Still on a range of committees – Audit, Area 1, Equalities, amongst others.  With the latter hoping to use it to give more active support with the LGBT Forum.  Lots of positives happening especially with same sex marriages now being legal – did you know they’ve been campaigning for this since 1992?!

Very active with Swansea Bay Fair Credit and on scrutiny group looking at how to combat payday loans and their like.  Continue to promote LASA, the local credit union, as the best alternative.  I make no apologies for plugging them as they have so much more going for them – don’t just offer affordable loans, but also help people to save, provide free life insurance, and long term aims include giving same services as banks like ISAs etc.

Did some training in Social Media which answered a few questions. Trouble is I never have time to try them out!

Carried on doing my ward surgeries – good way of meeting residents with and without issues,  and keeping in touch with those working in the Phoenix Centre, or who call in to use the cafĂ©.

Well that’s a decent enough run through of activities which I’m sure will keep you going til next month.  So from now on do look out for my blog at the beginning of each month.

Les