March - a month of frustration with Conservatives and Libdems and hope for a new council.
For the rest of April and until after the May elections I will be taking a break from blogging to focus on campaigning and on keeping up with council work as well. I may blog occasionally if there is something that really can't wait but otherwise will write after the elections!
Started the month with environment scrutiny committee, in which we reviewed a number of areas, probably the most sensitive being the changes proposed to the crematorium. In view of the lack of feedback from affected residents we recommended that further consultation was held to ensure that changes are brought in sensitively. As I commented at the time, one person's 'tat' (as a certain Conservative councillor put it) is actually another person's personal memorial, and I for one wouldn't like to be insensitive to residents.
We also had full council which I blogged about at length here. I've no further comment except to note that it is interesting that the Conservative and Libdem councillors who blog were remarkably silent - unless I missed something the only one who blogged about it was Cllr Benson, who at the start of her post explicitly pointed out that she wouldn't be blogging on the 'politics' of the night.
I am still trying to get a successful result on the Hartland Road markings, with little help from lead councillor it has to be said (despite his warm words to residents).
Out and about in the ward:
We held our regular monthly surgery in the Swallowfield Drive Community Centre. I've also been out delivering leaflets and chatting to residents as I've done that, as well as meeting people at the school gate.
In North Whitely we had a public meeting with the police and a good number of residents regarding the Northumberland Avenue shops. I'll be following this up with the police and council staff, but would also encourage all residents to come forward with ideas, and to consider signing up for the community speedwatch.
At the other end of the glamour scale it was great to work with Duncan Bruce to bring an Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner to Geoffrey Field Junior School.
I've been keeping an eye on some projects going on in the ward, including the flood prevention works on Kingsley Close and the new playground that I got agreement for on Kennet Island.
March was also the month we said goodbye to the Whitley Excellence Cluster team. They've done amazing work and it's such a shame to see them go. I wish them all the best in their new roles and it's great that Sheila Tibbenham at least has been able to get funding from the national school leadership college to pay for some of her role to continue.
Labour party and campaigning
The battle continues, we are working hard to win back control of the council and I've been out and about with the Labour team both in Whitley and across town. One of the things that many people in Whitley have told me is that they want us to get rid of the Conservative-led administration, so I'm doing my bit to help that!
We're determined that we will take as many seats as possible from the Conservatives and Libdems in May.
Meanwhile on a different note the visit by Yvette Cooper to Reading to listen to new ideas for policy was well received and I really enjoyed being able to listen to views from a range of political perspectives as well as see what Yvette had to say.
Looking ahead to April:
I have already attended the only 'council' meeting I expect to go to in April (a planning meeting in which I spoke as a ward councillor). The council is more or less 'shut down' for councillors in the run up to elections. I expect to continue to focus on campaigning and also to enjoy the many bank holidays with family! Having said that I am still working on various issues around the ward and don't expect that to stop.