Friday, 28 March 2008

Bureaucracy wins again, or did it?

Last night was the final meeting for this term of West Brom Town Committee. After the local elections a new committee is formed. We said goodbye to a well respected chair and local councillor. Our two Lib Dem “a strong voice on the council” councillors were absent again. I made it known publicly that they had missed the last meeting and the full council meeting and that the people of Newton deserved better. Our new Labour councillor though filled the gap very adequately, strongly supporting a petition he had personally spoke to all of the petitioners and coming out strongly in support of a pensioner who was having difficulties with anti social behaviour. This bloke might even persuade me to vote Labour on May1st. The meeting was again packed but not so many pensioners. The bad news is they have not yet got their bus back and it does not look like this is going to happen. All the quangos have been consulted; the council lead on transport came to tell us but sorry folks no bus. The good news if that is what it is, is that a limited service from Ring and Ride is being introduced and Community Transport are being consulted about possibly introducing a mini bus service. Neither of these options is satisfactory. Community transport usually charge for their services so our bus passes might not be valid. The battle continues. In typical Tory fashion the leader of the Tories was asked to re park his Jag which was blocking access to a resident’s property. My wife raised a question about charges for Sandwell residents to our new art centre which is due to open at the end of June or is it July or August or ?? I was surprised that she got what amounted to be agreement on her question but I think their idea of affordable prices is far different to hers.
A pensioner who had made many complaints to the committee over the last two years raised the issue of anti social behaviour near his home. He got the biggest fob off from a council official who claimed the police had given him a report and it was not ASB and that this should be the end of this issue. The official would have got away with this answer until our labour councillor stepped in to support the resident. I had to point out that the police who are supposed to attend these meeting had been absent from the last two and therefore their report could not be challenged. The Council lead on ASB gave him some advice which basically meant he had to continue reporting these incidents until it was recognised it was a “hot spot” then action would be taken. This upset the resident because he has been making these complaints for the past two years. I don’t think the ASB Hotline in Sandwell is working well. Unfortunately I had to leave at this point as did a lot of the petitioners. The committee is an exercise in local democracy but if we are to get real results more members of the public need to see the short comings of their representatives and how much hard work others put in. So a big thank you to those members who do try to make it work and a big raspberry to those councillors who don’t.

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