Sunday, 20 July 2014

Poor v Rich

Have you noticed how some words denigrate those who are worse off?   'Poor' is often used to mean 'not as good' eg 'poor results', 'poor timekeeping', 'poor at their job' etc. 

As if it's not bad enough having so little to spend that the choice is often between eat or heat.

As if it's not bad enough that the mostly right wing media is currently doing it's damnedest to convince everyone else that those on benefits are 'all lazy scroungers'.

As if it's not bad enough being continually insulted by well off hypocrites with comments like 'frittering away your benefits on fags & booze' whilst they of course do just the same with their money but can also squander it on expensive clothes, cars, houses ... the list goes on.

As if it's not bad enough being taken advantage of by loan sharks - legal as well as illegal - who know you are so desperate for money to feed your family that you cannot see further than the supposed 'friendly' face at the door or on the website.  They offer help and make it so easy 'you'd be a fool not to accept it'.   But of course this apparent 'solution' is only short term which quickly spirals downwards into a horrible long term nightmare.

On the other hand the word 'rich' does the opposite such as 'has a richly rewarding life', 'enjoys rich food', 'his award is richly deserved'.  Well lets turn this round and condemn some of the 'rich' ...

those who squirrel their money away offshore to avoid paying tax in the UK

those who award themselves ludicrous bonuses when the company itself has made a loss and is making people redundant

those who are so greedy that even though they have money coming out of their ears still go on to commit fraud and sadly all too often don't get caught

those who get knighted and for what, well just being rich it seems to me!

PS What's the difference between a Loan Shark and a real shark?  One is a nasty creature which will 'bite off your hand' if you are unfortunate enough to get too close, whilst the other is a much maligned animal that swims the ocean which will also bite your hand off but only if you are dumb enough to get too close!


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 café.

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

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Final Hurdle

It’s been a rather strange few weeks, partly because I  have had one eye op to remove unwanted cataracts, which broke up the council flow a bit.  So far so good, and now waiting to get the date for the other one to be done.  And as it seems to be my month for health issues I have also managed to squeeze in a couple of heart check-ups.  Again things are looking OK, so long as I keep taking the tablets (though I'm having trouble swallowing the large black rectangular one Jeff keeps leaving around!)

In the meantime there has a steady flow of meetings, with a bit of other ‘life’ like work, a couple of rugby internationals (thank goodness didn’t pay to go and see the Ireland Wales match!) a wonderful weekend seeing friends in Leicester etc.


But now is the time of reckoning.  We have finally reached the point where the council budget for 14-15 is ready to be decided, at Tuesday’s council meeting.  It’s been a long hard slog, not so much for me but for all the cabinet who have been faced with tough decisions since a provisional £4m increase of a year ago, in money the council gets to spend, went in reverse to over £12m in cuts.

Not the best of times.


Les

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

I'm back!


The Guildhall
I will remember last week as one where as many meetings didn’t happen as did!

Had a really positive one with Lasa credit union, and Pheonix Café, to give my support in relaunching the collection point there, and to get a clearer idea of what I, as local coucnillor, could be doing to help.  Still working on getting one in Sea View School, so watch this space.

But on Tuesday only one out of a possible 3 took place, which was planning.  Not many applications in front of us but some good arguments were put forward, not just councillors but also by members of the public.  When the council chamber finally gets it’s facelift and provides even more seating for the public hopefully there will get even more people attending.
Wednesday saw a change of venue with a Democratic Services meeting being held in the Guildhall (despite the fact that this building is currently having major repair & refurbishing works).  I’ve probably said this before but I like this committee as it looks at the machinery of council, with regard to both officers & councillors, which suits my strong organising streak.

Thursday saw yet another cancelled meeting – bit annoying as I only found out by going to the venue, but fortunately only a short drive up to Townhill.  However both evening meetings were on, and worth attending, I’m pleased to say – excellent talk by Mitch Theaker, Cabinet member for Children & Young People, on his role.  Swansea Council is very lucky to have someone as keen, enthusiastic and hard working.

Les

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Year's End


Things have certainly quietened down over the last two/three weeks, and although I have had some meetings they haven’t been quite so ‘wall-to-wall’ of late.  That having said I’ve still be chasing up on some casework issues, some that have been dragging on for ages.  Tempting fate of course but hopefully this time next week a couple of them will have been sorted at long last.  Fingers crossed!

One event of interest was when I went up to Seaview school to be interviewed by a couple of year 6 pupils, Joshua & Daniel.  One asked the questions whilst the other ‘filmed’ me using an Ipad.  I’m very grateful they gave me a copy of the questions before I went as I would have been floored by some of them, but in the end it passed off OK (I think!)  And I have to say that the older I get the more amazed I am at how adept children can be.  These Ipads are making such a big difference to their levels of confidence.

And the other meeting to mention is the working group I’ve joined to look at what the council itself could be doing about payday loan companies.  As I’ve mentioned before now I am very involved in the Swansea Bay Fair Credit group.  Whilst there has been some recent success, such as the government finally agreeing to set a cap on interest rates, there is still much to do. 


Well that’s it for now, signing off for Christmas,  

and here's wishing you a great festive season.

Cheers all!

Les