Being a councillor can be a funny old life!
Being a councillor can be a funny old life. Some weeks are filled with back to back meetings in High Peak, Derbyshire and beyond; others are less busy giving me the chance to get out and about in my own ward or even to do some housework!
A little while ago I attended a Q&A session with sixth formers at Buxton Community School, with fellow borough councillors Emily Thrane and David Lomax and local activist, Janet Miller. After nearly two hours of questions covering tuition fees, the Tesco's planning application in Buxton, BTECs, the benefit system and illegal substances, came THE question ...
... What do you do all day, when you are not here answering our questions?
Such a seemingly innocent question, but the kind that sometimes stops you in your tracks, momentarily at least. I hurriedly scribbled down a list of things that I had been doing recently both as a councillor and when 'off duty.'
As I've said what I do day to day, week to week can vary greatly - letting residents know what I do was one of the reasons behind starting this blog. Essentially it comes down to a series of meetings and dealing with correspondence.
In the past few weeks I have hosted the second 'Community Voice' meeting with parish and town councils. Last week a similar meeting was held for community groups and organisations in Buxton and on April 18 it's the turn of Glossopdale folk to have their say at a meeting in Bradbury Community House, Glossop.
The idea behind these meetings is to start a conversation with local people about what they want to see happening in their area, and to look at ways in which we can all work better together for the benefit of our communities. The plan is to hold these meetings twice a year in each area.
The most recent Parish 'Community Voice' meeting discussed the often thorny issue of planning. Chapel parish councillor Mike Harrison, who is in involved in Chapel's neighbourhood planning pilot project, gave a warts and all insider's view of the process. As a pilot Chapel received a government grant of £20,000 to help fund the project, with £8,000 set aside for the referendum at the end of the process.
Planning was also the subject of a lively debate amongst borough councillors as we thrashed out our approach to a consultation on housing numbers. This will become even more important following the Government's publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on March 27.
I expect there will be a lot discussion locally about neighbourhood plans, housing numbers, the local plan and the NPPF over the next few weeks and months.
Last updated: 23rd April 2012