It’s been a tough year for us all, and it was surreal to find myself in a sports hall for the annual meeting of Redditch Borough Council recently, with the Mayor donning a face visor and everyone sat 2m apart. If this is how we Councillors have to meet, how will we ensure our councils remain connected to our communities going forwards in a world where distance is now key?
Part of the answer is clearly going to be online, in addition to changes in the ways we interact in person too. I look forward to grappling with some of these thoughts and challenges in one of my new roles as Chairman of the Corporate & Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel for Worcestershire County Council.
I’ll also be carrying on as the ‘parks chief’ for Redditch Borough (a tongue-in-cheek title given to me by a local resident). Here again is an area with much to think about.
We have two great main parks in Redditch, which I urge you to come and visit. Stuffed full of nature and just as much potential for the right kind of enhancements to improve the lives of people who live and visit here.
My Borough role also includes adult skills education which is important given the economic recovery challenges. What role can a small Borough play in helping people re-skill?
At the heart of these strategic items is a duty to serve the public, and it’s one I take seriously. We have seen on our television screens today what can happen when ‘groupthink’ takes hold and people within those groups don’t feel empowered to challenge the consensus to ensure better policy is delivered.
One way to defeat groupthink is through transparency and I also look forward to looking at how this can be improved, not just across the council committees I sit on but in my wider public life and in my local party association too.
It’s been a very tough week to be a Conservative, but I take heart in knowing that change for the better is possible and I feel a sense of duty to play my part in making it happen.