Friday, May 12, 2006

My first week as a Councillor

I have not been idle, honest, since you last heard from me.

I have been quite busy although in a rather unsatisfactory way really, lots of questions, insufficient answers!

On the first day after the election, having gone to bed at 4am, I got up again at 9am to a constantly ringing phone. That was great, lots of hugs and congratulations, some from me and some to me. I was thrilled with the results in Manchester where my mates Suzanne Richards, Sue and Paul Murphy were all hard at work and did great things to deliver some more Labour victories against a backdrop of national publicity about how well the Tories might do (they didn't).

I went for lunch with my mate and her husband to celebrate and then got in the car about 2pm to go off to the municipal buildings to get sworn in.

Only when I got in the car and tried to set off, I remembered (and heard) the flat tyre I had limped home with the night before.

So I got the bus to town instead.

I went to the Chief Executive's office to get sworn in, expecting a bit of a ceremony, a bit of a fuss, maybe a photo, but there was nothing. Just "Hello, come in, sign this book, go away".

I was very disappointed and have since suggested that brand new councillors should have something a bit more ceremonious in future.

I then went to the Labour Group office - that is the rooms dedicated to Labour councillors in the council and met the support staff. Laura took me off to get my photo taken for my pass. I was delighted when the man who took the photo answered my question "Should I smile or look serious?" by saying "You are Labour aren't you, so smile!".

I then went off to the Labour Party office to talk about a thank you leaflet and a direct mail to those who had voted. For those who think it is all over after the election, think again!

On Saturday I went to visit all the local residents who supported me on their leaflets, lots more hugs all round.
By Monday I was doing loads of casework. On Tuesday I did a home visit regarding an order to stop up an old right of way and on Thursday was in the Magistrates' Court objecting.

I also went to see a couple of possible locations for advice surgeries. I have decided to hold my surgery once a week on a Friday tea-time, in two alternating locations, and hold extra ones now and then elsewhere in the ward too, as well as doing mobile surgeries covering much smaller areas.

All heady stuff

And I still dont have an email address or any stationery, nor any IT system to connect to. Nor a list of people to contact. I will have to find my own way.

We had a training event in the Chief Executive's office yesterday and I did feel compelled to say that training was a great idea but sessions at the end of June were way too late for my residents who want me on their cases now in the middle of May!!

It is already apparent that officers have no idea of the aspirations of residents who have been waiting weeks, months and even years for a Labour councillor to get elected so they can start pressing for things. (Presumably the same would be true of a new councillor of a different flavour, except that we did not have any this year, hurrah)

Even our Group is not without blame, I have been in the job a week now and the mentor they promised has not materialised, I reckon I need a mentor for about the first six weeks and not much after that. Nobody seems to get this, Doreen, Anna and I, the new councillors, are agreed on these frustrations.

But generally it has been great

The local Inspector has already been on wanting to meet me, local community groups want to show me round, everyone is very upbeat, and none more than me

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should tell Liverpool Council to learn from Manchester's system of briefing and preparing new members ;0)