Friday, 28 May 2010

Week 3 as a councillor - new politics and business as usual

Long post but I want to keep Whitley residents informed about what I’m doing as a councillor rather than disappearing into a black hole.

Started with finishing off even more paperwork over the weekend!  I am actually going to get back out and about this weekend hopefully…

There was also a Labour group meeting on Monday where we discussed the Mayor making and also who would represent our party on the various cross party committees.  I am on Environment Scrutiny, SACRE (which sets the Religious Education curriculum) and on the cycling liaison committee

Obviously the biggest ‘event’ of the week was the Mayor making.  Lots of pomp and ceremony and some voting.  Disappointed really from a female point of view that they didn’t see fit to have any female Conservatives in the cabinet – despite one being their deputy leader!  You could tell the party by what we were wearing:  Conservatives, as promised, in full robes (and 3 cornered hats for the women), Libdems in their everyday clothes or suits, in Labour we all chipped in for red roses in our button holes and and Rob White, our only Green councillor had a lapel badge, which said ‘Vote Green’ – they already have Rob, that’s why you’re here!
It was lovely to see Gul made Mayor, he’s a councillor I have a lot of respect for who works really hard for his ward and for Reading as a whole.

The most controversial thing was how Scrutiny chairs (basically the cross party committees that review cabinet) will be appointed.  Jo (Lovelock) put forward an amendment to the motion that required open ballots by the scrutiny panels to elect their chairs, on the grounds of transparency.  Unfortunately the Conservative response was that this was ‘new politics’ and they'd tell us later how the chairs were going to be elected (Lib dems looked on happily).  Slightly odd as I had thought that new politics was all about openness and transparency not backroom deals?

Wednesday I went to the Aspire2 partnership meeting as a guest, a really interesting meeting.  Learnt a lot about Whitley arts week, the work of Aspire2 and was also able to offer a bit of help to them.

Thursday evening I had to miss the Whitley North NAG (Cllr Jim Hanley was there) as I felt it was important to attend the training on being an effective member of a Scrutiny Committee.  It was certainly very useful and I mean to ensure I'm a fair but effective member of Scrutiny.

Behind the scenes I’m also setting up what I hope will be a good opportunity to chat to people in the ward informally and pushing forward concerns that residents have been raising with me.  Remember, you can just email me racheleden.whitley@gmail.com or give me a call 01189675687 (although that’s my home number so I might not be there!)