Monday, June 23, 2003

Another busy week. Kicked off on Monday with a Lead Member briefing about the council newspaper. In the evening we had a Labour Group meeting to talk about the potential changes resulting from the boundary review (the results are out at the end of July). On Thursday I had a meeting with some of the other CIT chairs to talk about how the new local area management systems might work.

On Thursday evening I chaired the Hunslet and Middleton Community Involvement Team meeting. Before it started we had a look round the Rylestone Early Years Centre which we have an £11,000 grant to build a new outdoor play area. They've done some great work with a 'trundle' race track complete with tyres and finish line for toddlers to race on thier tricycles. There is also a 'construction site', willow tunnels, sand and gravel pits and an outdoor music area.

The police came to the meeting to give a report on the CIT funded overtime hours that are being used to crack down on illegal motorbikes in the area. We also agreed to fund some major projects. I will post more about this later.

On Friday I had my regular Lead Members meeting at 8:00 am and then had a Leeds South Homes newsletter meeting in the afternoon.

I also spent most of the week dealing with a particularly difficult piece of housing case work to help a family that has been forced out of their homes and are staying with friends while trying to find a new house in Middleton. It is made trickier by the recent introduction of Choice Based Letting, which will eventually improve things but at the moment is still trying to settle in.

Friday, June 13, 2003

What a busy week it has been! A great meeting with the pensioners on Monday - they are really keen to help Jack Dunn and me get cracking on the Friends of Middleton Park project. On Tuesday there was a really good training session about planning. I learnt a lot that will help be a more effective member of the planning committee and to better represent my ward on planning issues.

On Thursday all three councillors were down at Middleton St Cross to help residents choose new secure doors (see the news release on the main website). In the afternoon I had CIT briefing meeting then straight into a planning meeting - it was the first of the new style ones we had. I think it was much better to look at fewer items in more depth. Giving objectors and supportors an opportunity to speak worked really well.

Later on Thursday afternoon was the best meeting of the week when I chaired out CIT Youth Sub-Group. For the first time we had members of the Youth Council attend. It was brilliant, they had lots to say and contribute and we've resolved to look at how we can get more young people involved. We looked at some of the activities planned for the summer holidays and made some changes based on the comments from the youth councillors.

On Friday I had a briefing on the communications review which is looking at how the council can improved the ways it communicates with local people. There has been some good work done and I relish the opportunity to get involved in an area that I know a lot about.

Monday, June 09, 2003

At the weekend I was having a browse to look at the websites of some other Labour MPs and councillors and came across what I think is the only blogging MP - Tom Watson. It's not surprising that it's Tom as he is an ace campaigner. He was the Labour Party's Youth Officer way back when the HQ was in Walworth Road and I was young enough to be a young-ish member. He then went to the AEEU (now Amicus) to work with Sir Ken Jackson as Head of the Political Office.

Tom was a good friend of one of my best friends, who is sadly no longer with us. Dominic McElroy was a brilliant Labour Party Organiser in Leeds who died tragically young. We all still miss him.

Anyway go and have a look at Tom's blog. It's a good read and shows just what a hard-working Labour MP does.
Last week was quite busy, even though I was in London for some of it. There was a stack of council work waiting for me when I got back. I'm just about to get a new answerphone as I'm worried that the one I use at the moment is losing messages.

On Thursday I had my first official meeting as the Lead Member for Customer Services. I met with Adam Ogilvie, the Executive Board member, and John Illingworth, the other lead member. We had a briefing from officers on some of the key challenges and tasks the authority faces. The biggest one of which is to continue moving away from the 'silo' mentaility where everyone's focus is what department to a customer focused model where the most important thing is what does the customer want. My main areas of activity will be the 'e-government' agenda and customer communications (my own area of professional expertise).

It's busy this week. I'm seeing Middleton Pensioners Organisation this afternoon to talk about Middleton Park. Tomorrow I've got a planning seminar tomorrow and a Leeds South Homes training session. Wednesday is a meeting about pre-fab bungalows in Robin Hood and the difficulty of making them into decent homes for people to live in. In the afternoon I have a meeting to look at how the new area management system will work (it will eventually replace local Community Involvement Teams). Thursday I have a CIT meeting, a planning meeting and I'm chairing the CIT's Young People's sub-group! Friday is a Customer Services meeting first thing in the morning, followed by a Leeds South Homes editorial afternoon meeting about the next newsletter.

All in all a very, very busy week.

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