Saturday, 31 March 2012

A varied month - taking stock of a month in #rdg politics

It's certainly been an interesting month politically, both here in Reading and nationally.

Nationally of course the budget, which we're still hearing about and which has been attacked so widely.  I like a sausage roll as much as the next woman but I think the big news there has been the absolute absence of anything resembling a plan for getting the economy moving again, and our young people into jobs.  From a housing point of view it was very disappointing indeed.
As for the petrol crisis, well all I can say is that Conservative ministers have shown that they don't understand the first thing about leadership.

As for the other national news - well I was as shocked as anyone about the George Galloway win in Bradford West earlier this week.  I suppose that everyone will be looking for reasons, and analysis will divide into two camps, those that think it was a unique set of circumstances and those that think that it says something about the national trend.  I don't know if I sound as if I'm having my cake and eating it, but there's clearly something to be said for both.  My view is that with the Labour vote down to 25%, Conservatives on a shocking 8% and Libdems below 5% (although no real surprise there) there was a definite an anti-politics and politicians mood.  That may have been exacerbated by the particular circumstances but it's also a national phenomenum.

As someone who has a day job and a family I understand that but as a representative of a mainstream party it really worries me.  Since - and before - my own election in 2010 I have seen first hand the importance of showing you are a human being first and a rosette wearer second - people can 'shop around' in placing their votes, and they will.  I will never forget being told almost exactly 2 years ago "Well I'll vote for you Rachel but I'm not voting for any of them politicians".  

Oh and don't forget it was this month that the NHS bill passed in parliament.  Probably something that Libdem members of the government will regret for years - and certainly something the country won't forget.

Local news.  Well still getting hits and based on popularity the biggest story on my blog this month was full council, not the important policy debates but the resignation of Cllr Chowdhary from his party.  Also of course we  didn't get city status, and nominations opened for the local elections.

It's been a busy month for me as a councillor as well:  perhaps the most significant announcement came at the start of the month with a major set of proposals to improve private rented accommodation here in Reading; the cabinet also approved funding to set up timebanking schemes in pilot areas and I shared a platform with the head of the Home Civil service to discuss growth.

Out and about in Whitley I had may usual councillors' surgery with my ward colleagues, ward walk abouts in Whitley and was delighted to attend a performance by the young people at the John Madjeski Academy in my own ward, about on crime and the fear of crime.
Elsewhere in Reading I was really pleased to visit George Palmer school to hear about 'community kids' project; to congratulate Southcote residents and staff on the spring displays and to attend the opening of Oak Tree House on Dee Park by the Duke of Kent.