Sunday. Canvassing. NAR. [Not Actually Raining!]
Monday – Work in Town Hall most of the day, then visited a friend who works for a particularly hard pressed council department. Then yoga and choir (my Monday evening not-to-be-missed “self gardening” routine).
Tuesday – delivering newsletters in Broomhall by myself and then with a member who lives nearby. Broomhall almost covered – 2000 leaflets out, thank goodness for all our helpers. In the afternoon, a briefing about adult social care. Could we get more paid for via the NHS under “continuing health care”? We desperately need national policy on this. Then Chinese New Year celebrations at the City Hall. Rob Murphy thinks the “face changing” act is the most amazing. I would say the woman who lay on her back and juggled a card table with her feet – throwing it in the air and spinning it. Or perhaps the local children in the first act – inside the dragons in front of an audience of thousands. The boy banging the cymbal was pretty good too.
Wednesday – another budget briefing and Full Council. Our motion about the library consultation – calling on the Cabinet Member to have a radical rethink about the proposals – was brought up the agenda and actually debated. This is the first time Labour have allowed this (changing the order of motions) all year, usually they dismiss a full public gallery as having been “packed” by opposition groups. And the Lib Dems put an amendment to the Housing Revenue Account pointing out that the administration does have a choice about the level it is set at. Parts of Rob’s motion pointing out that that Sheffield councillors can also influence the contribution to the Transport Authority (and hence the need to cut bus services and concessions) were passed. But Labour’s own first motion – on food banks – was nothing but a tirade about the cuts being imposed on us. If only shouting at the Lib Dems in council would change anything! I did not hear a single Labour councillor explain or defend the choices they have made, admittedly in dire circumstances, in relation to libraries, rent or food banks. On my way home, wrung out by so much anger, I went to the leaving do for the outgoing head of libraries and was able to thank him for his efforts and speak to some other officers.
Thursday – took my “intern” (as she calls herself) to a polling station in Arbourthorne. It was 8.30am. Three people had voted so far. She never had the chance to vote in her own country but is now a UK citizen so is interested to see how it works. Then to the Sharrow Children’s Centre Forum – which replaces the Advisory Board. And which was definitely not a public meeting to discuss the review of prevention services (which were summarily withdrawn last September). But officers did their best to explain to the 5 “stakeholders” present what had happened; and committed to push for at least some kind of timescale on when decisions will be made about the building. It is owned by NHS Properties – which is NOT the same as the NHS! – and they will only rent the whole building and for a phenomenal amount. It was bought and refurbished by the Surestart Programme only ten years ago.
Back to the TH for a briefing with the police inspector about re-organising resources in the city centre. Hooray – at last the teams will now reflect the greater workload in Central ward and the city centre. Then had a meeting with a constituent and her son who has not recovered from being bullied at school last year and just stopped attending. Will I be able to get help to get him back on course for A levels? He is very bright and wants to go to University. In the evening, Group of Groups meeting in Broomhall. Lots of talk about the effect of benefit cuts and what we can do locally to support people.
Friday – meeting between Lowfield School and manager at U-mix centre who are going to manage letting the school hall. Luckily I still had the paperwork from before this project stalled (the person dealing with it left) and we just went through my last summary of issues to be tweaked. Fingers crossed. Coffee with a friend. Lunch in the Green Party office. Afternoon – briefing with Director of Place about plans for the city centre. He is clearly wedded to a New Retail Quarter but politely listened to my vision for a new kind of city centre which is first and foremost good to LIVE in. Would require input around planning, licensing, transport, green spaces, how we “sell” the city to investors … He wanted to tell me about EON and the new heat and power pipeline. Much safer territory.
Saturday. NAR for a whole morning. I built a new compost box and turned the contents of the year-old one into it, creating a new space which will be for potatoes; and in the afternoon processed the remaining brussel sprout tops (the sprouts themselves were pathetic this year, don’t know why, should I try different variety? – the plants were healthy but the sprouts themselves were tiny. Is that some kind of metaphor?). And did some sewing, listening to news of storms and floods elsewhere. Anxiety for all our futures seeping into the contented evening. The army are pumping water away from an electricity substation in Reading. There is no railway line left to the West Country. But there is no acknowledgement of what this means and what should be done at national level. Just blaming and distraction by another scandal.