9 Sep 2008

Tuesday: a typical day as a councillor?

Here's a little about my day today - actually I don't think any day is typical but well here's a flavour of one day...starting in reverse as that is freshest in my mind!!

Photos: Stroud FM, cake from this afternoon and coffee earlier

Home just after 9pm to a few phone calls, 75 emails and this blog - before that I joined the Policy Panel for councillors on homelessness...there is some excellent work being done by the District Council - although clearly much more is needed from central government so that we can tackle those on the housing waiting lists - barely a couple of people are sleeping rough in the District and policies usually allow for those to be housed - however one of the challenges for coming months is the likely increase in repossessions as the credit crunch bites - interestingly the recent Green party conference supported a "right to rent" policy so that homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments and under threat of repossession could transfer ownership of the home, at less than market value, to the council, and then remain in the home as council tenants. Apparently some private companies are already doing this but several very dodgy ones have come to light...

Anyhow before that evening policy panel I joined Stroud FM and Patrick on Drivetime for 40- mins or so for chat and music about the Open Homes project this weekend - don't miss it!! Patrick was great at putting me at easy although I still have much to learn re radio...I did once have a chart show, aged 17 on "Wycombe Hospital Radio - broadcasting live on channel one, that's lots of fun" - but that was long ago....and I think I barely had a 100 or so listeners - it is great to see Stroud FM starting to make it's presence really felt in the community - there is loads of great stuff there...

I was nearly late at Stroud FM as I'd spent the afternoon at The Exchange in Stroud with researchers from BRASS at Cardiff University who are working on a project focusing on the role of skills for sustainable communities - it is a one year project jointly funded by the economic and social research council and the academy for sustainable communities.

The aim of the research is to develop guidance for communities to identify their skill gaps with regards to sustainability and use this information to address those gaps. They are focusing on Stroud because of its range of innovative approaches to being sustainable - I was interviewed earlier in the year on a number of issues but this afternoon's session was one of two focus groups looking more closely at the question of skills - it was a healthy discussion around a table with 8 of us and some great cakes (see photo!) - I hope they will be able to reflect in their final paper.

Various issues came up from the focus being too much on skills whereas many learn by doing with others - many of the obstacles were identified - not least that Government is working in the opposite direction, the lack of democracy, the fact that all those in the room were acting on projects in their own time and unpaid for their work.

See the literature review they did on sustainable communities before doing fieldwork - that is a useful starting point: www.brass.cf.ac.uk/WP45sustainablecommunitiesJN.pdf

Before that I had called into learn how to use the photocopier at Ebley Mill and a quick meeting there to follow up on a couple of queries raised by folk in the ward - the photocopier lesson took about 2 mins but involved 15 mins of getting a swipe card registered so that I can be charged for use....

The morning - well I was planning a lie in after a late night - but well just before 8am I had a call from someone re the Open Homes project and so got up to plough through correspondence, emails and more - I am still not through the non-urgent stuff from when I was away - also lots of phone calls on everything from planning applications, to news that I have managed to get a basketball hoop for the ward - free except for fixing it - Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish now need to decide if they can site it...a long story - I then had to call into work before a quick lunch then to Ebley Mill as above - sadly it meant I was not in time to hear the Randwick mast discussed - but the mast was refused as expected and I had already made my thoughts well known in a letter - not sure how interesting any of this is for the regular blog readers or indeed anyone - perhaps it was time for bed a wee while ago for me??

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