Mixed bag. June 1st to 12th June 2011.

Attendances at County Hall have been less than normal recently but Council business ticks by with another meeting of the Housing Project Board on 3rd June.  Unless the Choices documents are ready by August-(essential as they give the terms of remaining with the Council or jumping to a Social Registered Landlord), then the ballot may have to be delayed into the following year. Getting approval of members, the Executive and now WAG, as I will still call it, is going to be quite a challenge.  There was dismay that yet again the Executive member for Housing offered apologies.  I fumed that I could make the effort on a hot sunny Friday afternoon and yet the member responsible for briefing Executive colleagues on this important subject could not. I’m sure there was an excellent reason for the no-show but they are now far too frequent.  The minutes will be noted.  Only three councillors are on this Panel and the decisions we are being called upon to make are complex & far reaching. Things lightened up when we discussed the CD that will be made & distributed to all tenants to help them make a choice.  I suggested we should offer a prize to ensure the CD was watched with the clue embedded in the script.  “Already in hand”, said our Communications expert.  We giggled at various suggestions for spotting the clue such as the number of cucumbers hanging in the greenhouse or the names of plants in a front garden. Our Chair rightly complained that whilst sparing no effort to tell residents what will happen if a Social Landlord takes over the tenancies, information about what happens if residents chose to stay with the Council is very thin.  Maybe trying hard to be ‘neutral’ is not allowing proper balance.  Having already heard this complaint from other non panel members, I agreed with her and now this area will be given greater prominence.  Its encouraging that the CE has obtained written confirmation that the Authority’s costs will be met and we won’t be left having to settle all the bills surrounding the ballot process. MONDAY 5th June.  Whilst Cllr Heesom’s Adjudication Panel was ending yet another tax payer fuelled day of deliberations, I was one of the very few that took up Executive Member for Waste Management’s invitation to attend a 5pm workshop.  The latest crop of bins, bags, boxes and food waste caddies  that will soon be taking our rubbish to various re-cycling points across the county were on parade.  Its all change in a big way & for some it won’t be easy as everything will soon be collected on one appointed day.  Brown & black bins, bottle sacks, blue box for glass items only and the food caddies must all go put by 7am on collection day.  If there is no suitable space to leave them on the properly a handy collection area will be identified.  This is going to be tough for residents whose doors open onto the street and for those who live in terraces & can’t wheel a bin though the house but the Executive Member assured us that the collectors will do everything possible to make life easy for us.  Lots of money had been invested in new purpose built wagons and all the collection paraphernalia because WAG has set out its demands & must be obeyed. This County’s always been keen of  keeping waste out of landfill and thus escaping ever spiralling dumping charges so we should all do our bit too.  Cllr Nancy Matthews and her team have worked hard to ensure we get to grips with rubbish collecting and I wish them luck after all their hard work planning the change.  HELP IS AT HAND. If any constituent has a problem I’m happy to put you in touch with the man who should be also to help find a solution.  We are all facing a big learning curve and hopefully we can help those less able to push the bin or drag the box.   That Adjudication Panel is grinding through the witnesses for the Ombudsman and Cllr Woolley returned to the stand. Birds that deserve to fly free! I fell in love with the Albatross when I went birding in New Zealand in 2005.  I found myself within touching distance of several of these magnificent creatures when our small boat  manoeuvred round the floating flock.  One looked me in the eye and  honked at me so I honked back and we carried on quite a conversation as we drifted across the ocean surface.  They are severely endangered as their breeding cycle is very slow.  Thousands die a dreadful death by drowning as attracted to fishing lines they become entangled and are dragged down with no way back.  Thankfully the RSPB swung into action and mounted a campaign to “Save the Albatross”.  Having sold property a while ago, I gave a decent chunk to this good cause and every year a more modest donation is sent to David Agombar, the project leader.   The task force’s instructors work at sea on commercial vessels and conduct research to identify what fishing lines sink faster and are less of a lure to passing albatrosses and petrels.  The work  is going on apace with considerable success.  It takes up to  8 years for an Albatross to grow to full breeding maturity.  They pair for life so if one of he duo dies, simple maths says that without David and his team’s fine endeavours, yet another wonderful species will vanish from our Planet.   These birds are masters of their environment.  I am more than happy to help this particular variety as they are truly spectacular flying machines So passes another Civic Sunday. It was certainly albatross weather on 12th June.  The rain fell in stair rods on the celebration of Cllr Hilary McGuill and brother John’s County Service at Emmanuel church, Bistre Buckley.  Hats were snatched from plastic and popped on heads once inside and sodden umbrellas festooned the porch. Some very wet suits were on display, evidence of the gallant ones who had held brollies over their escorts whilst making a dash to the door.  It was raining even harder after a good service but nothing deterred us from joining our hosts at the Mynydd Isa Community Centre for an excellent buffet rounded off with strawberries and cream.  We are the lucky ones.  No drought threatened in these parts just yet.

One Comment

  1. Hannah M. says:

    I posted this on what I discovered was your old blog, and will post it again here. I admire you!

    Dear Ms Halford, I just heard your BBC Archive on Four story. I wish we’d known each other back when you had your lawsuit. At the exact same time, I was fighting a very similar case here in the US. I didn’t get accused of drinking (hard, when the “boys” always mocked me for NOT drinking”) but listening to the story was like listening to my press cuttings. I was a the first and only woman in my large city to hold very high positions,and was always paid tens of thousands of dollars less than men in the same positions. I, too, went through an ugly media fight. I won a HUGE, but got nothing out of it – another story involving my attorney and his friends at City Hall. At the time, women working at the City noted amazing changes in their working conditions which seem to have stayed in place since that day in the early ’90s. I have so much respect for you. Sounds like you have small dogs – I ending up getting an Irish Wolfhound as a deterrent to my violent detractors.

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