Posted by: iangilbert | October 31, 2012

Another Week

Last week wasn’t quite as busy as the previous one, but there’s still a lot going on. Hopefully I’m helping to give a sense of the sorts of things that I’m working on.

On Monday I left work a little early to attend a meeting with the council’s Chief Executive. One of the advantages of being a Group Leader is you get time most months to speak one-to-one the person who is in overall charge of the council’s operations on a day-to-day basis. After meeting the Chief Exec I went to the budget briefing for corporate support services, which is the directorate which does financial management, IT services, legal services, customer services and the like.

Tuesday was another packed evening. A meeting of the group leaders was cancelled as one group leader was left stranded by the foggy conditions, instead I was able to go to the shadow support services portfolio briefing. There were a number of controversial issues including the council tax benefit reform (cut), changes to council tax exemptions and whether or not to webcast council meetings. Without divulging any of our confidential discussions, I can say that I remain a strong supporter of allowing people to see what goes on in council, and having councillors speak ‘on the record’ so that the public can hold us to account.

Following that there was a special meeting of Economic & Environmental Scrutiny. Both items on the agenda were confidential as they involve items that could possibly be commercially sensitive. One was in relation to the future of Queensway house and was regarding sites to be developed by the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) which the council has formed to with private sector partners to develop assets in the town. Unfortunately attending that meant that I missed the Victoria Ward Neighbourhood meeting, however my colleagues David and Margaret were there and able to raise some ward issues on my behalf.

Following the conclusion of that meeting, I went to Labour Party meeting at 268 Sutton Road. It was packed and there were a number of new faces which is always great to see. Membership of the local party seems to have got a bit of a bounce from our really successful conference season.

Wednesday evening was another budget discussion. Thursday was a quieter day, just one short meeting which was regarding the Economic & Environmental Scrutiny Committee project for the year, which is to be on investigating how the council can help to bring jobs and investment to Southend. I was being nominated for chair of the project group and wanted to give the officers supporting the project a steer on how I would want it to progress. I’m very keen that we start with an evaluation of the job market in Southend and how we can help not just encourage business, but encourage business that provides jobs that benefit local people.

Friday was a day off (from council, not from work), though Saturday I was back to it with my council surgery and delivering PCC election leaflets in parts of Victoria and Milton wards.

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