This week saw a lot of meetings, a lot of campaign and a by-election defeat ahead of a wind-down for Christmas. However you’re marking the season I wish you and your loved ones all the best.
I attended the County Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Board (OSPB) of which I am a member and sub-panel chairman. We were there to look at the budget, but because the local government settlement from the national government was not ready yet we were limited in what we could do. Suggestions were made from each of the sub-panel chairs.
My suggestions focused on concerns around recruitment. The County Council is not immune to the global recruitment crisis as it looks to fill a wide range of posts including social workers and educators. The costs of recruitment are increasing largely due to having to go out multiple times to try and find people to apply for the roles.
I am also concerned about how local government attracts people to come and work in the sector. Packages available in the private sector are highly attractive when compared to public sector offers, and yet if local government bodies such as Worcestershire County Council creates more incentives for people to come and work for the authority they are immediately criticised in places like the Daily Mail and on social media for giving too much of taxpayers’ money away. It’s a challenge to find the right balance – everyone wants social workers and teachers, but nobody wants to see their tax pounds spent in a way that doesn’t deliver benefits to the public.
- You can see my main contribution to the meeting here – though note to self: need to stop ‘ummm-ing’ so much!
The OSPB meeting was at County Hall and I had a meeting the same day for the Borough Council, so it unfortunately meant I missed Church Hill Big Local’s Christmas Fayre. Residents will know that I love to support local events, especially the ones put on by Church Hill Big Local, but I just couldn’t make it along this time due to meetings.
This week also saw the Executive Committee that resolved the issue of where to locate future burial provision for Redditch. The committee decided that Ipsley Meadow is the preferred site.
There has been intensive local debate about this issue for over a year since it resurfaced. It was actually something first discussed over 10 years ago, but the can was then kicked down the road repeatedly for all this time. As the Council Leader said, the can is now barely recognisable as a can it has been kicked that much. The Redditch Advertiser has more details.
- The documents relating to the meeting can also be found on the Borough Council’s website.
I was pleased that the council is now moving forward on this issue, but as I outlined in my speech to the committee I was disappointed on behalf of residents that progress on this issue has taken so long.
I have uploaded the full Executive Council meeting for your viewing pleasure, which should appear below. If you would like me to also upload the 3 hour Overview & Scrutiny meeting that also looked at this issue please let me know.
Thursday saw me make one last trip to North Shropshire to help Neil Shastri-Hurst in his by-election battle.
I had been to North Shropshire a number of times to lend my help to a candidate who I knew was an excellent choice and would have been a first-class MP for his constituents. It was not to be however. In fact the result was quite the thumping for the Conservatives and a storming win for the Liberal Democrats.
As I said in the early hours of Friday morning the outcome was horrific.
I was also invited onto BBC Hereford & Worcester to say a few words on the matter, and of course they wanted me to openly call for Boris Johnson to resign live on air, something I was not about to do.
My position is that the government led by Boris Johnson needs to very quickly demonstrate to the people of the country that it is competent, decisive and in-touch with the issues of the day and the aspirations we all have. The window of opportunity to do so is narrowing, and if we see further stories of the kind we have seen these past few weeks then clearly it will be very difficult to retain the confidence of the public.
I had my booster jab on Thursday, delivered by the good people at Knight’s Pharmacy in Redditch where a walk-in centre is available. That meant Friday was a day for both nursing wounds from the by-election defeat as well as nursing the side effects from the jab.
If you are yet to have yours I can highly recommend it, even with side effects. The dangers from catching COVID-19 are a far greater risk.