This isn’t meant as a formal report but I do want to keep constituents in the loop. This is a much longer post than usual but I hope of interest to local constituents!
Formal council committees that that I am a member of and met in June are Environment scrutiny committee (full post here) and the full council meeting on 29th June. I had a motion to full council on on keeping postmen and women on their bikes. This was passed unanimously. I also voted for the motion on council’s commitment on climate change (also passed unanimously after being watered down by a libdem amendment). The motion that would enable All Saints school to have time to explore funding options for a building they want to expand was amended by the administration to say that they would decide on the sale at the next cabinet meeting (passed as amended with Libdem/Conservatives for, Labour, Green against). I voted against the amendment and then against the motion as it now meant the opposite of what was intended by the Minster ward councillors. I voted against the Conservative/Libdem coalition agreement as they voted down the amendments that would have provided some reassurance (passed with Conservative/Libdem votes for Labour and Green against), for the endorsement of the tree strategy, the report on regulation of sexual entertainment venues, approving the accounts, procedures to promote local democracy and engagement, the new governance arrangements proposals and the appointment of the honorary recorder (all passed unanimously).
I attended the last of the induction training for new councillors at the beginning of the month as well, very useful and good information.
Other council related events that I’ve attended include the exhibition for refugee week, part of the Armed Forces Day (before being taken to watch the footie with my husband and friends - would have rather stayed to be honest!), Waterfest/Forebury Fever and the June meeting of the Reading Faith forum.
Out and about in the ward:
Jim Hanley, Mike Orton and I have held two events for local people to come and chat to us in June. 4th June Mike and I held a surgery in Whitley Wood and 19th June Jim and I hosted a councillor’s coffee morning at the South Reading Youth and Community Centre. I hope we can continue this as it’s a nice, informal way to chat to people about their concerns.
Jim and I also attended the Kennet Island residents association meeting on 1st June.
I’ve also had a number of individual issues that residents have raised with me. Obviously I won’t list them here but they do really vary: housing, parks, road surfaces, anti-social behaviour etc. Please do feel free to contact your ward councillors if you have something that you want us to help with!
I have met with a number of groups and individuals, including a developer with a site in Whitley, trade union representatives, a community sports association, the management company of a major development, the car club that operates the council and Kennet Island car club cars and attended a local charity’s board meeting (I don’t count my school governor role as council work but have been involved there as well). Obviously although I am happy to listen to anyone who I think has something relevant to say I will always put Reading and Whitley’s best interests first!
I also made sure I have met with a number of council staff (or officers as they are known) to ensure that I quickly get used to the way things work on the council and I can be an effective representative.
Labour party and campaigning
This section is not related to my work as a councillor but is something I do on a voluntary basis and is relevant to constituents!
I’ve stepped down as women’s officer for the local party as I want to make sure that I can commit my time to being an effective representative and campaigner.
However I’ve remained elected to the committees of the local party and was elected as one of the back bench members of the Labour councillors' group ‘executive committee’. I’ve been to local meetings and Reading wide meetings as we discuss how we campaign for the future. There's a lot of positive ideas in the party and I know that we're going to do all we can to win votes and seats on the council in next year's elections.
Locally we’ve put out a leaflet to a large portion of Whitley ward following the election thanking all those who voted for us, reminding people of our contact details and giving information about the new coalition locally, we'll be putting out a newsletter to the rest of the ward over the summer.
I’ve also been keeping the ‘Whitley News’ website up to date as I know it’s become a popular source of information.
It’s also been great to welcome new members to the party, if you want to join or you’ve just joined but haven’t heard from anyone locally yet get in touch – it could just be because it takes a little while for the local party to hear about new members!
I hope to post a similar report to this on a monthly basis. My expectation is that July will be a slightly quieter month as many committees of the council don’t meet and I will be taking a little time out during the month. Please do continue to get in touch with me, but please bear with me if you don't hear back for a couple of days. You might prefer to contact Mike or Jim if it's very urgent. I’ll do my best to stay up to date and helpful!