Friday, 7 October 2016

A Tale of Two CACs

Had a break early September but back into things after a week or so. 

Mid month I attended one of my Cabinet Advisory Committees (CACs), Education and Young People.  Unfortunately I had been unable to get to Pentrehafod School that same afternoon, which was a visit to find out what it does to help motivate pupils who might otherwise end up with no plans for what they will do on leaving school.  From being on this committee, and as a governor, I get the feeling that most schools have a better approach these days, try to be inclusive, providing far more help & support within the school itself, and go to greater lengths in order to see potential in all pupils.

Towards the end of the month I also went to my other CAC. 
This one looks at all aspects of the council as a corporate body - quite a range of topics to cover!  One area we have been helping to steer is that of making more public places smoke-free.  Started earlier in the year with Caswell Bay Beach we are now looking at Primary school gates, and will be trialling this venture at Seaview in October.  So do look out for more on this in the future.  


Monday, 5 September 2016

Being Helpful

Early in August I helped out with a litter pick around the Boys & Girls Club.  Technically in Castle ward, this building is actually right on the border of with Townhill.  The Boys & Girls Club of Wales is hoping to bring it back into community use.

On a more social level I have joined the Voices on the Hill, a group of local singers who meet once a week in the Phoenix Centre.  Quite a contrast to my usual repertoire when I join in with 'I want to be like you' from Disney's the Jungle Book!

As with a lot of councillors across Swansea we carry out Street Surgeries, where you knock on doors and simply ask if someone needs our help.  We aim to do this regularly as it not only helps to pick up issues, but it's also a really good way of getting to know the ward & residents better.

And in late August, ending the month with the same task as I started it, I was helped out by a couple of volunteers from the Lifepoint Church when we did some litter picking and general tidying up around the Mayhill Washing Lake.  As you will know if you follow my blog regularly, we are still making progress, slow but sure, in setting up a Friends of group, and had another meeting to take this a bit further.   So once again I recommend you watch this space!


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A Double Dose

Don't quite know where the last two months went but I somehow missed out doing June's blog entry!  So here's two months in one ...

Scrutiny carries out various types of investigations, one of which is via a Working Group which in theory takes one, maybe two sessions.  This doesn't always pan out, as the one on Tethered Horses has been the case.  It's turned out to be a more complex subject than perhaps was thought at first.  I think we have made some headway but it hasn't been easy.  It has been a balancing act between the tradition of those who have kept horses for generations, against the backdrop of too many allowing their horses to suffer through being tethered without sufficient food & water, and protection from the weather.  We have been working other groups with various approaches to the problem.  Will keep you posted.

On Sunday 12th June we held a Bog Lunch at Mayhill Washing Pond, marred slightly by the fact that some idiots though it highly amusing to set fire to the supposedly indestructible picnic table the night before.  But it was still a lovely afternoon.

I attended a very useful meeting of the Swansea Friends Forum, where any members of Friends of groups can go along and share stories, information, advice etc.  And in late June I went to the Armed Forces Day celebration in Castle Square.

Along with the usual meetings - CACs, full council etc - we had another 'ceremonial' council to recognise the contribution made by former Cllr Bryon Owen, who not long ago had to stand down through ill health.  As well as finding out more about a councillor and the good work they have done, it's also interesting when you learn something personal about them.  In Bryon's case it so happens he was both a good singer, and a poet.  People never cease to surprise me!


Saturday, 4 June 2016

A bit of Pomp and Circumstance

This month has seen some more progress in getting the Friends of group off the ground.  My main aim is to help keep the area around Mayhill Washing 'Lake' tidy, and as far as possible free from flytipping.  But now we have others on board interested in a community garden, that gives us more scope and hopefully more activists.

I continue to be involved in Swansea Bay Fair Credit, one of many groups trying to point out the issues in using payday lenders and such like.  We realise that for some payday loans are their preferred choice, and actually work fine for them, but we simply want to help the public know the alternatives, such as credit unions, when getting a loan, so they can make the right decision.

May is the month when the new Lord Mayor is elected
and this year it happens to be one of my fellow ward councillors, David Hopkins.  He gave a great acceptance speech, and I get the feeling that not only will he make a very good job of it, he will also have a great time doing it!

And a triple dose of the Phoenix Centre, with my regular monthly surgery, and meeting of the Hill Community Development Trust, plus a birthday celebration for 15 years of the centre itself.  The latter was an outdoor event, with that particular Sunday starting off very wet, but by some wonderful miracle the clouds disappeared, the sun came out and a good time was definitely had by all!


Friday, 6 May 2016

Back to the grind

And what a lovely, restful break it was! 

Back all too soon, and to a pretty full week, especially Wednesday - very hectic with four meetings one after each other, but all different and all useful. 

The last one was again looking at making progress in setting up a Friends of group to look after the Mayhill Washing 'Lake' - this word comes from Old English and actually refers to the stream than runs through this area - and the plan has now been expanded to encompass a Community Food Garden as well.  You may recall I mentioned this project back in October, but  unfortunately the 'hiccough' has lasted a lot longer than I would have hoped.  Fingers crossed we are back on track.

As well as standard meetings like Student Liaison, Audit and Council, I was fortunate enough to be at the ceremonial event to confer the Freedom of the City on 'Mr Swansea', Mel Nurse.  It's always good to be able to recognise someone who has given so much to their city, and in particular for the help he gave to save his beloved football team.

Another one-off was in going to the launch trialling Swansea' first smoke-fee beach, Caswell Bay.  It was 'opened' by the Lord Mayor, and supported by various groups including children from a local primary school.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out - another case of 'watch this space!

The rest of April has been quiet on the council front as we all go pounding the streets hoping to persuade the residents of Swansea to go and vote in the Welsh Assembly elections.  Shoe shops & repairers must love this time of year!


Friday, 1 April 2016

The not so usual

This month I have had more non standard meetings than usual.

I am on a scrutiny working group which is looking at the issue around horses being tethered on public land, specifically council owned, a practice that has existed in Swansea for decades if not centuries.  It has created quite a lot of interest including a spot on BBC Radio Wales morning show.  To ban, or not to ban, that has been the question especially at the most recent meeting I went to, and as ever the two sides have each thrown up valid points. 

I've also attended a special audit committee meeting looking at just the one item, reviewing a particular project to see what lessens could be learned from it.  We were going to deal with it at the previous meeting, but just as well we didn't try as we spent two hours on it!

In addition there have been the 'regulars', a full governor's meeting, and the monthly trust meeting at the Phoenix Centre which I go to support those in the running of the centre.

Now I'm off for a week away from it all - a well earned (well I think so!) break.


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Never a dull moment

As well as formal council meetings there are of course plenty of other ones that I can attend.  I have probably mentioned before that as a 'back bencher' ie not being a cabinet member, I am able to choose scrutiny groups where the topic is something I want to have a say in.  Lately I have been going along to discuss the issue tethered horses, and how best to resolve the plight of those horses where they are not being looked after.  A very emotive topic as you can imagine.

Another 'meeting' in February was in fact a celebration of Townhill Library, based in the Phoenix Centre.  They have been there 15 years, ever since the centre was opened.  It was a joy to hear singing by children from Townhill School, and poetry from Poets on the Hill.

And February is the month where the full council decides on the budget.
  Now that really is a test of stamina, although this year not quite so long as has been the case, a mere 3 and a half hours!  To make the event more interesting there was a protest outside, but I have to say it was the nicest one I have ever encountered.  Through the efforts of the young people gathered there we enjoyed some great music - a refreshing way to start any meeting!