Sunday, 1 July 2007

Catching up

Right, lets start to catch up.
June 19th. Keith attended a conference at the ICC entitled "Brighter Futures for Children". Although this looked at a broad range of topics surrounding Children's Services a lot of it focused on the work being done by the Dartington Institute who claim to be able to bring scientific evidence and data to subjective ideas such as children's happiness and how to achieve it. The Institute was apparently founded by the man who wrote the first paper on the welfare state and also invented the Open University among other things. Does anyone have any thoughts on this establishment?

June 21st. To Warwick University for an Executive Management Team away day. Yes, Keith is now in that stratospheric position due to his chairmanship of the O & S committee. It entails listening to Senior officers views on the future course we should take and then giving our views. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up. Several of us had to leave early as we were going to a meeting at Queensbridge School about the SEN review. It seems that parents can have a really tough time when their child is diagnosed as special needs, or even getting a diagnosis. Estimates show that the instances of Autism are going to explode over the next few years. I do wonder how we are going to cope.

On Friday it was the first meeting of the O & S committee on Vulnerable Children which Keith is chairing. A fairly quiet opening as the discussion mainly centered around the work we want to do over the next year. This will include looking at fostering, transition issues, recruitment and retention of social workers and other aspects of this really important part of the council's work.

After the meeting we packed up the camper van and went off to Evesham for the weekend. Keith's cousin has a caravan down there and we spent a couple of days catching up. Ron has been suffering from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and has been told he is now clear but the treatment really takes it out of him. Hopefully he can start looking forward to a swift recovery and getting back to normal.
The weather was a bit grim but we managed to get out and take the dog for some long walks. Sunday night brought a tremendous downpour which lasted most of the night. The noise meant we got very little sleep that night.

Back on Monday for a meeting between Association Chairmen and Cabinet members to discuss tactics, funding etc. The last couple of years have seen the volunteer side of the party working closely with Councillors and this seems to have helped us win seats consistently. We now need to couple this with Central Office and the professionals in order to take some parliamentary seats.
That evening Keith conducted another Custody Visit to Bournville Lane, Kings Heath and Belgrave Rd police stations. Quite busy, it is amazing how many repeat offenders they get. I suppose if you are hooked on drugs and can't work then crime is your only option. A pity that people don't seem to realise where that first joint can lead them.

Tuesday 26th. A busy day starting with a meeting of the Great Park Business Group. This has been a success as crime figures have plummeted since we persuaded the businesses to pay for security guards on the site. If only we could get Morrisons to join in. They have some terrible crime rates on their car park but seem to think that it is nothing to concern them. The day will come when they find out the consequences of their inaction.
Sue did an advice desk at the Frankley Plus Children's Centre whilst Keith attended a presentation by the Malachi Trust who work with children to help them with family issues , breakups and bereavements etc. I found out years ago that the reason infant schools keep hamsters is to introduce very small children to the concept of death. It worked for me although as I was born just after the war the concept of death was no mystery to us as everyone had lost someone and it was often spoken of.
That evening Sue was at the Reaside centre for a committee meeting whilst Keith was at a meeting of Conservative Association Chairman to discuss some ideas and proposals which seek to formalise some of the arrangements we have had for a while and listen to some new proposals. There is even some money on the table.

June 27th. Here's a laugh. Keith went to a training day with RADA, yes, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. It was not in London but at the Council House and about 10 councillors had some great fun doing breathing exercises, voice projection, body language and role play to help us improve our communication skills. I don't know if it did any good darling but one never knows.
Sue had to go to another meeting, this time at Forestdale School to talk about a project we are involved in to transform a derelict playing field into a major children's facility. We have now got over £230k towards it and should soon see a Teen shelter installed as the first part of the scheme.
That evening we drove down to Somerset for an overnight stay. The next day we had to inter Sue's mom's ashes at Bawdrip Church. This is a beautiful 12th century Norman church in a little village outside Bridgwater. Sue's father's ashes are already there and the casket went in next to it. There was a slight hitch when the strap used to lower the ashes got caught up, but that was Sue's mom, awkward to the end.
back that evening for a pig roast at St.Leonards Church at Frankley. Say what you like the Methodists do a lot of work in Longbridge. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get on with it. Any funding we give them is well spent.
Friday 29th. Keith went to a meeting called by Richard Burden MP at the Lickey Hills visitor centre to discuss ways of upgrading the Balancing Lake on the Great Park. The object of the lake is to take excess water off the river Rea at time of surge. As it does this very well no-one is really interested in it accept local people who see it as an amenity. It contains a lot of fish but is only 2ft deep in places. It will cost about £100k to desilt it and we are all looking for ways to raise this amount. Sue couldn't make it as she had agreed to do some work for the BMA. This was the organisation she workrd for before retirement and election. I think she is busier now than when she worked.
I managed to get a letter printed in the Mail on Sat night. It looks as if they are pulling out all the stops to help out Bashford, Bedser and Drinkwater so I suppose I should be grateful to get one in occasionally. It was about litter again and peoples expectations that the Council should do everything, anywhere, anytime. More on this next week.
Another busy week next week and Sue has to go into UHB on Thursday for an operation. Lets hope she doesn't get MRSA while she is in there. Sometimes having served on the Health Committee for 3 years can have it's drawbacks.

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