There is never a dull moment as a Lead Member. Councillor Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council in England shares with us the ins and outs of a week on the job.
The week started with a meeting with a local bowling club which is looking to take on more responsibility for the greens. This is an approach we are taking across South Tyneside to encourage community groups to work in partnership with the Council to make services sustainable for the future. This approach has already proven to be very successful with our community associations and libraries where local community groups have stepped in to manage them on our behalf – a strategy which is helping to safeguard these valuable community assets for future generations. I also gave the bowling club details of external funding bodies which may be able to help with this new way of working.
It was a busy day dealing with issues from constituents. I worked on a variety of resident concerns, ranging from potholes to anti-social behaviour and re-housing to planning applications.
My Lead Member briefing with council officers covered issues such as air quality and NVQ training for taxi drivers. We have secured funding through the South Tyneside Council Skills Service to offer NVQ accredited training for taxi drivers at no cost to themselves. The scheme is aimed at driving up standards but also raises awareness among taxi drivers of safeguarding, child sexual exploitation and disability. This is part of our approach to encourage people from all walks of life to be ‘the eyes and ears’ of the council to keep children and young people safe. The training has been warmly welcomed by taxi drivers as it represents an excellent opportunity to further professionalise the taxi service in South Tyneside with obvious benefits for both drivers and passengers. The scheme has proved incredibly popular and we have an ambition to offer the training to every driver who wants it.
I attended a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Cabinet where we made a formal decision to close a local school faced with viability issues. A very difficult decision to make, which followed a lengthy process where we sought a sponsor to support the school. Feelings among some parents have been understandably running high – but our hands were tied because of national legislation and the lack of a viable alternative.
I listened to an informative presentation about a new strategy to harness support and promote social action in South Tyneside. #LoveSouthTyneside is a campaign aimed at recognising and promoting civic pride. The initiative seeks to raise awareness of activities taking place in the Borough such as volunteering and community events which endorse South Tyneside as a great place to live, invest and bring up families.
Hebburn Carnival Trustees meeting. Preparations are already underway to make this year’s carnival bigger and better than ever. Entertainment for this year’s event was planned and discussed and work began on the necessary groundwork to make the event a huge success.
At a Labour Party ward meeting, we discussed plans for actor and Labour Party activist Ricky Tomlinson to attend a question and answer session next month in Hebburn. This follows on from the very successful event held with Ken Loach of I, Daniel Blake fame.
Whenever I am free on a Friday I go to an event at my local Community Association. I started a weekly gentle exercise class there about eight years ago. This has attracted ladies from across South Tyneside who enjoy low impact exercise while socialising. At this week’s session we enjoyed learning more about golf. The ladies formed themselves into two teams and there was great competitive spirit. The group has evolved so that the ladies now have a social calendar which involves days out, visits to garden centres and we support local cancer patient care charity Daft as a Brush by putting aside our 5ps and copper. Last year we raised £550.
While at the hub many of the women raise local issues with me – often about the regeneration of the towns or about other community issues – providing me with another opportunity to listen to the views of my constituents.
If you would like to share a week of your council life with LGiU readers across our international network, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop Hannah an email.