Monday, 1 February 2016

Where did January go?!

First meeting after the festive season held on 6th January (rather apt it being the last day of Christmas) and picked up back where we had left off, continuing to look at how to improve the prospects of those children who can so often slip through the proverbial net.  This is going to be a long haul.

This was one of my Cabinet Advisory Committees which are now held exactly a week apart so a week later sees me at the other one, with the 'main feature' this time looking at a particular loan that the council could apply for.  Even with grants there are always catches, but with loans if nothing else there's the biggest catch of all, you have to pay it back!  And as with all of them, whether a grant or loan, there are very specific criteria that you need to meet so that they are not always worth applying for. 

It's budget time of year again and the council does it's best to involve the public by offering a number of ways to get involved.  I attended a public drop-in session, and whilst not that busy those that did come had very useful questions & suggestions to raise.  (I always try to look positively on public consultation - it's never perfect, as many will claim "they never knew about it", but if only one person makes use of it,

it's still better than none at all!)

And the last week of January has been the busiest, out every night, Monday to Thursday.  I could have attended 7 council related meetings/events so I think getting to 6 of them ain't bad!


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A quieter lead into the festive season

One of the highlights in December was the presentation given by young 'looked after' people.  As a council we have a corporate responsibility to ensure they get the best outcome possible and it is very rewarding to see that they can not only survive difficult circumstances but also come out as great as they do.  They reminded us that they are no different to any other young person, and they have a right to be heard.

As it happens the Education & Young People Cabinet Advisory Committee which I sit on is currently looking at how to reduce the number of school pupils who leave at 16 without something else to do, be it job, training, or planned gap year etc. I'm sure this has been looked at many times in the past but we must keep trying to find ways to empower ALL young people so that they are equipped for life, whether they are academics or have practical skills that cannot always be measured by exam results. 

Also attended the last governors meeting of the calendar year - I have a 50 page document to sift through for our meeting in January full of stats and tables for me to get my head round! - and a smattering of the usual monthly committee meetings, ready for a welcome break in which to recharge my batteries.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Always more ...

When I look through my diary for November there's one thing that stands out - still lots on! 

I thought it might ease up after October, and of course it's not all to do with the council.  For instance I was desperately trying to attend enough choir sessions to be reasonably confident for the concert, and at least managed most in the month but fell at almost the last hurdle when it clashed against full council.  If the meeting had kept to the average length no problem, but it was just one of those with a lot of important issues which ended up as a four hour marathon. 

A concert which I went to rather than take part in, was
as part of the Remembrance events, which took place on the Saturday before 11th November.  Whilst I could have been there simply as a member of the public I knew about it through being a councillor.  And as with last year, I joined one of my fellow councillors in attending the short service which they hold each year at TOPIC House.  Both were moving in their own way.

Two meetings that don't come around that often ...

Student Liaison : Townhill doesn't have much of a student presence but it borders on Castle & Uplands which do.  Whilst student issues have been ever present we have been employing an officer who has certainly helped considerably in liaising between students, residents & the universities & colleges;
and Trustees : here we allocate grants in support of community groups from money that has put by specifically for that purpose.  So this is probably the most positive meeting I regularly attend.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Non stop!

OK so it wasn't non-stop just because of my work as a councillor but then we all have our own lives to lead.  I'm sure I've said this before, but it's worth saying again - to be a good councillor you must have a life outside.  That said I must admit I've been having a bit too much 'life' and have lately looked again at reducing my other activities.  But I've still had a number of tasks all falling in October - my business tax return, dealing with year end as treasurer for a business group, and preparing questions & running an annual quiz.  Yet looking through my diary I also managed to squeeze in a number of council activities.

The recurring theme this month has been children and education.

Firstly I went to an art exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum mainly the work of primary schools.  It never ceases to amaze me how good children's artwork can be.  I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again, one should never underestimate kids!

Then half way through the month I attended a full governor's meeting at Dylan Thomas School.  Whilst having been on that governing body a while I am still learning the ropes as far as secondary schools are concerned.  Later in November I will be getting training on statistics by going to a session on Understanding Data which should help.

Also I know I've mentioned the Cabinet Advisory committees that I am on.  These have been rejigged and one I am now on is looking at ways of helping all children leave school prepared & ready to going into work, or take up further training, or get involved in something with purpose.  The meeting in the latter part of October looked at how we should do this piece of work, and who to ask for advice & information.  Whilst there will always young people who when they leave school fall through the net I hope we can at least come up with some suggestions to reduce the number which do.


Friday, 9 October 2015

And busier still ...

I enjoyed a late holiday break in early September, which was lovely at the time but it took me ages to catch up when I got back.  Plus the quieter times of less meetings over the summer have definitely gone, so my days during this month have certainly been busier.  And if that wasn't enough I've had quite a bit else on, so it's been a precarious juggling act which on the whole I've just about managed.  To help in the future I am reducing my involvement in one of the activities I do outside council - time will tell if this pays off.

But on a very positive note the meeting to progress the Mayhill Pond project was really worthwhile.  And although there was a temporary hiccough over who would carry it forward, it now appears to be back on track, with great support from officers.  I will come back to this with regular updates.

Apart from that there's been the 'regulars' such as full council, and the not so frequent meeting to check progress of Communities 1st - still doing some great work as in, amongst other things, helping get people back into work, or at least work ready.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Not so quiet

I've mentioned many in previous blogs, but as well as actual council arranged meetings there are usually a lot more that councillors can go to, some looking at specific projects.   We have two ongoing at the moment that will I hope benefit the ward and all communities in those areas.  Interestingly both overlap with our neighbouring Castle ward.

Those of you who know Swansea may well know the Boys & Girls club which technically is in Castle ward but actually right on the border with Townhill.  Castle Cllr David Phillips has been working on this for years, and his hard work appears to have paid off as at long last the building looks like it will be brought back into use by the Boys & Girls Club of Wales.   A very good public meeting was held mid August where the architects provided impressions of what it could look like.  And whilst reservations were raised, all being quite valid concerns that will need to be addressed, the general consensus seemed very positive.  It's still very early days but a good start none the less.

And let me tell you a bit more about Mayhill "Washing" Pond, which is just up
the hill from Castle ward's North Hill Road.  It's so called because historically people would do their washing there.  Some people have been using it as a dumping ground for their rubbish, either through not knowing better or simply not caring.  However, as mentioned in my last blog, local residents, councillors in both wards, and Communities 1st, have all been looking to assure it's long term future as a family picnic spot.  There will be a public meeting in September to help take this forward.

On another tack, people often ask me if we councillors have a summer break.  It's certainly true that things quieten down but in fact meetings continue throughout, and I make a point of not taking a break from doing my monthly surgery.  I's a very useful way for me to meet people, as well as it being a place for them to air their issues, and it makes sense to me that if the poster says 'every month' then it should be so.  And has it happened August's was one of my busiest!


Monday, 3 August 2015

Long Term Plans

Whilst I haven't had many meetings over the past month or so I have had time to make a bit more progress on a couple of long term projects. 

I have become very interested in the possibility of introducing 'Friends of' schemes in Townhill ward, and Mayhill "Washing" Pond seems an ideal spot to see if this can take off.  Residents & Communities 1st have already being making inroads in getting the pond tidy but I, along with others, think the long term answer to keep it tidy is definitely getting a group of residents on board and this is what we intend looking into in the coming months.

I have also looked in more details as to how the NEAT team works - these are people with learning disabilities but through support are able to learn practical skills by doing outdoor work, not just clearing litter but bringing patches of derelict land into leisure use.  To get a better idea I visited Polly Park in St Thomas.  The improvements they have made really show just what great work they can do given the right expert guidance. 

And to finish on another positive, I am delighted to 

see the wonderful wild flowers yet again in full bloom, such as on the corner of Penygraig & Dyfed, and also half way down Gwent Road.  I hope everyone can agree that it does make such a difference.