GETTING CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS

Attended last Community Council of 2011 and I hate the Institute car park as its a sea of mud and pot holes and the security light positioned to light up the path is erratic. The car torch comes in handy. A journalist and our local CBO, Sian joined us and agenda soon moved to police matters. The Chair of that committee has strong feelings that we MUST always have a police presence although the local inspector has firmly indicated that with stretched resources this is just not possible at times. Before the cuts, we could expect the full compliment of 4 officers. I am more & more disinclined to push for a police presence as it eats into officers’ patrol time and they are little more than messengers taking complaints back to the bosses on historic issues.

The crimes that concered two members were missing hanging baskets & a broken window, all having occurred a few days ago. Sian knew nothing of either incident nor was she able to add any more to the collected sum of our wisdom on damage to a member’s van and some other long past vandalism incident. Sian sat making the list & I thought what a waste of time. I feel that these well paid and busy officers should not have to attend and dance to the tune of community councillors moans about their own personal law problems. So I said so, bluntly and eloquently without diminishing Sian’s presence and position. I discovered that about an hour was taken from Sian’s evening duty and I growled that her time could be better spent that pandering to us. As anticipated, Cllr George Hardcastle took a strong opposing view and felt that an hour away for the beat was a small price to pay to allow cllrs undivided attention as many officers the inspector could spare. I refused to back down which pushed colleagues into a for me & against me position which is no bad thing as normally we never disagree. Our Chair, Cllr Clive Carver had listened to what I had said and thought I had a point. Cllr Dave Mackie also played the peacemaker by suggesting we should try the Inspector’s idea to set up a communications line that did not involve personal attendance of his precious resources. There was no animosity amongst us but I have a feeling the regular demand for police attendance at Community Council may soon be a thing of the past.

The major councillor commitment of the 13th December was the Chairman’s lunch where we are entertained by some of our wonderfully musically gifted young people, enjoy a Bucks Fizz, put money in the bucket for the Chairman’s charities and then eat lunch in the Alyn & Deeside room, (for which members pay). As I rushed in late, I met an Executive member rushing out. The turkey lunch was good but I noticed how few members had attended, seemed less than half our numbers and amazingly the Leader and every one of his Executive was missing. Our waitresses worked flat out to get us all served & I felt really mean that no collection was taken to show our appreciation of how hard they had worked. The room was full, swelled by officers and members’ guests. I had taken a doggy bag & my table happily pitched in with their left overs too.

Failure even to attend the Chairman’s Christmas lunch is a huge snub to the Chair I feel! The Executive seem now to be operating on two levels when it comes to the powers of decision making; which was not the case before. As reported earlier, a way was found to block some decisions that should be scrutinised by being “called in”. The Coalition has not worked well for months, if at all! The more informed members know we are being led by a donkey but only an election will clear out what is rotten in the stables once and for all.

14th December Audit Committee. There is unfinished business on the agenda owing to an unusually timed 6pm Council meeting but it was more productive and less combative than I had imagined. The theft of £53K still waits to hit the headlines and Cllr Peter Pemberton & I are still trying to wrestle with the deep secrecy that had surrounded the cost of bringing the Council waste company, A&D Waste back in house as yet more money was spent according to the detailed papers we received.

The attempt to nail the cost of bringing AD Waste in house has been pursued by the Audit Committee ever since it happened. Trying tease out the financial truth of what public money has been spent propping up this arm’s length company has ended in failure as we just do not know. There must be a lot to hide if such a stout defence of withholding the facts is mounted.

All Directors bar one plus the Leader attended to address the item on the rising cost of consultants. The question and answer session was educational and positive and members and officers reached a proper understanding of why we employ so many. It’s work in progress as we need to ensure contacts are terminated as agreed and not drift into temporary permanency. The bill will go down as major pieces of work are completed and all Directors are involved in the recruitment of the large contracts. The only sour note occurred when the Leader in his role of Financial Executive member declined the invitation to explain several negative comments in a letter from the Welsh Audit Officer. Some aspects of how Flintshire finances are run left much to be desired. He would respond in writing. Full stop! What a missed chance. The Coalition rarely has a voice and the Press on this occasion might have run a good news story on how the Authority is responding well to financially straightened times & any criticism is welcome as we learn by our mistakes. Audit members wait with baited breath for the Leader’s written response.

CHRISTMAS CARDS V CHARITY DONATIONS.

I have no great love for cards. The postage is exorbitant and cards are produced from precious finite resources. Thanks to all who have sent them to me but do not be offended if respond only by email if known. A decent donation will go to two charities, one EAPP1, A Quaker inspired charity that sends teams of volunteers to Israel to act as go-between & peace maker on the Palestine/Israel border. The Israelis are illegally occupying vast tracts of Palestine land making like near impossible for farming and herding their sheep and goats. I heard an accompanier talk of her dedication to peace and she regularly travels to Israel to help the Palestinians whose live under the yoke of coping with the wall of the invading force. The dividing wall expands remorselessly taking up Palestinian land and cleaving through property so the only view is a 30 foot high steel barrier. Some Palestinians have been trapped in Bethlehem for years, work is scarce and even getting water is a constant battle. EAPPI man entry point and ease the way between Jews and Arabs at the hundreds of friction points that occur every day. They are the guardian angels for the Palestinians who bear dreadful attrocity at the hands of young Israeli conscripts. The most depressing stories related to a heard of sheep & goats in a canvas shelter being mown down by the bulldozer; the man’s livelihood wiped out in minutes because the soldiers wanted it that way. The village well that is deliberately polluted or the fields wrecked by Israeli quad bikes are just part of attempting to wipe the Palestinians off the land. Some now live in caves. There is no where else to go. The other charity to receive a donation and one I already support is Cornerstone, local to Mold & Buckley that has been steadily building successfully for 6 years now, This charity works toward being accepted by L’Arche, a world renowned chain of special staff and houses that look after some of the most damaged and vulnerable members of society.

My last charity, Womankind supports women in developing countries- silenced & isolated by tradition and culture; to have a distinct way for the first time in what goes on in their families, community and country. Female circumcision at three and enduring marriage by abduction is commonplace in Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Peru. Offering support to the victims makes others strong too and slowly the tide will turn to allow the lives of young women to change for the better. How men continue to dominate and harass the women across the world seems never ending. I lost a career in a minimal way compared with the real physical suffering of women locked into cultural abuse. I’m happy with my choice to limit my card list is the right one.

ONE MORE GOAL ACHIEVED.

A sincere thanks to Stephen Jones, the Street Scene boss and Kevin his manager plus the men who went to the Level Road playground to install two new dog poo bins, that is if they have not been intimidated by a borishness of a male resident who seems to have other ideas. At short notice, on December 20th, I was summonsed to the site to determine where they should go. Having waited since August for the bins, I was delighted to drop everything and respond to the call. I could not believe being rung a while later to be told that a rude man had demanded that a bin was not to be sited near the Raebrook Avenue entrance. I had agreed this site with the nearest house months before and felt grateful for their tolerance as nimbyism invariably rules supreme. Whoever this interfering busybody is, I trust he feels ashamed of himself. I’ve spent much time pushing for a bin and thanks to the cooperation and goodwill of Environment officers, got two. I’m still trying to find out how the dog bin saga ended. I will be very concerned if the council workers have left in a huff and taken their bins with them. I could not blame them as there has to be cooperation or they will be vandalised. 0 out or 10 for poor behaviour for the local bully.

To the rest of you, may I wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful and hopefully a prosperous New Year.

One Comment

  1. Colin Hughes says:

    The new layout very good. The most recent label welcome.

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