Nov 23 2013

Cllr Sue Anderson: A week in the life of a councillor

cllr_sue_andersonCllr Sue Anderson (Labour, Greenhill) supplies the latest instalment of her ‘week in the life of a councillor’:

Usually blogging ends up on the end of my “To do” list and doesn’t get done but the other day I had time to put a few thoughts down as I was stuck on a train with no Internet access, and so was unable to deal with planning, social care,parking or Japanese Knotweed problems.So here is another week in the life of a back bench councillor

The week had been an unusually sombre one, as I attended two Remembrance Day ceremonies, the civic one on Sunday and then a much more low key but no less moving ceremony with the British Legion at Harrow on the Hill War Memorial in my ward on Monday.

The general mood was set on the Friday before when I went to the funeral of Donal Drohan, a most estimable man who served the council as an operations manager and was one of the victims of the St Jude’s storm. It was clear from the number of mourners and the tributes to him that he will be much missed.

Obviously the political news of the week was the result of the Harrow on the Hill by election, the seat being comfortably held by Labour. This was the most extraordinary polling day I have ever been involved in with accusations of assault, councillors being asked to leave polling stations by the police and passers by coming in and complaint of being intimidated by councillors who were leafleting outside the polling station.

Apart from that it was business as usual, I went to the call in meeting about the cessation of the 20 minutes parking trial in Rayners Lane where the grounds of the call in ( lack of consultation and lack of proper information on which to base the decision) were upheld the matter needs to be reconsidered by Cabinet.
The next day we had a Scrutiny Performance and Finance committee where the main item was about Equalities. This committee is an important element in the scrutiny of the Executive’s performance and it is a shame that so few members of the public come to see what is going on.

The best turnout we ever had was at a special subcommittee we held to review the progress in implementing the “engaging young people”report. We held our meeting at Cedars youth centre and the young people who came along gave presentations and ask questions. It would be great to develop this side of the committee’s work looking at particular themes and asking relevant voluntary sector groups and interested individuals to come along and contribute.

This report made me much more aware of the importance of the Council’s work with young people, work which is particularly vulnerable to cuts in the current financial situation. It was therefore very encouraging to be invited to the Youth Work Week celebration, and see the variety of activities organised with and by young people. I particularly enjoyed the self defence demonstration and the sketches about staying safe on line – definitely a future in drama for some – and moved by personal testimony from some of the participants about how youth work had turned their life around.

Diwali celebrations took on a whole new meaning for me this year as I spent New Years day helping out Mind in Harrow at the Swaminarayan temple in Stanmore. Really impressed that they have chosen Mind in Harrow and Harrow Mencap as the two charities they’re supporting this year, and have said I’ll be happy to go back to similar events.

Source: Cllr Sue Anderson via harrowlabour.org.

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